Fleet managers facing fines from private parking companies should question their legitimacy, according to an appeals specialist.
Private car parks, unlike council-run ones, are governed by contract law with the operator setting the terms and conditions of use, as well as the level of potential charges.
But David Fairley, who describes himself as a consumer advisor traffic appeals specialist, said private companies have no basis in law to penalise an individual.
“Private parking company tickets have become more and more common these days,” explained Fairley.
“They are written in such a way as to make the receiver believe they are legitimate, but in truth they are generally unenforceable.”
When a driver parks their vehicle in a car park it is implied they accept the terms of the parking company, displayed on a sign.
Poor signage could be a defence, but either way Fairley says it is “practically impossible” for the company to prove a motorist knowingly entered into a contract to pay them.
One fleet manager, who did not want to be named, described the system as a “scam” after facing a £100 fine for exceeding the hour limit in a car park by 40 minutes.
“This is going on everywhere and you’ve got ask yourself how many companies are paying these tickets without challenging them,” he said.
McDonald’s employs a maximum waiting time in its car parks, but the fast food giant would not be drawn on how enforceable its system was, choosing instead to stress it made no money from the fines it imposed.
“Details of any parking restrictions at our restaurants are clearly communicated throughout the car park via clear, large signs both as they enter and park around our restaurants,” explained a McDonald’s spokesman.
“Customers who wish to stay at the restaurant longer than the time limit can inform the duty manager who pass details on to the enforcement company.”