How is a parking contract formed?
The Department for Transport Guidance on Section 56 and Schedule 4 of the POFA 2012 -Recovery of Unpaid Parking Charges states-
“Contracts for parking on private land can arise in a number of ways. However normally a car park will have signs setting out the terms and conditions upon which parking is offered. Drivers can then decide whether or not to accept those terms and conditions. In most cases a driver who parks in a car park with clear signage setting out the terms and conditions will be deemed to have accepted the terms and conditions and therefore entered into a contract to park with the landholder”.
Important points to consider:
Are we an approved operator? Yes, as are all of our parking clients. We do not take instructions from non approved operators.
Private or public land? Our clients typically manage parking on private land. However some of our clients manage parking on behalf of Local Authorities and Railway operators. Different laws and byelaws may apply to tickets issued on those sites.
What is meant by a parking contract? When you park in a privately owned car park managed by one of our clients- e.g. a supermarket or hospital car park – you are effectively entering into a contract between you and the parking operator. The parking operator has offered to allow you to park on the land that they manage subject to the terms and conditions displayed on the signage. If you park there then you are agreeing to meet the conditions they have stated i.e. paying £1 for an hour, parking in a marked bay, not using a disabled bay without a valid permit or agreeing to park for a limited period.
Why have I been issued with a parking charge? If you pay to park, park correctly and leave without breaching the terms and conditions set out, then each side has met its contractual obligations – contract fulfilled. However if you park but don’t pay, park across more than one bay, park in a disabled bay without a valid permit, overstay the time paid for or allowed, contravene any other condition for parking on the site then the parking operator can claim that you’ve broken the contract, and issue you a parking ticket.
How can I appeal? You may appeal to the parking operator at the address given on the parking charge. You must appeal within the allotted time given otherwise you may lose your right to appeal.
What if my appeal is rejected? If your appeal is rejected by the parking operator (and your ticket was issued in England or Wales) you have the right to appeal to POPLA (Parking on Private Land Appeals) or the IAS. It is worth noting that you will lose your right to any discount offered by the parking company for early payment should you choose to appeal to POPLA.
Can I appeal because of mitigating circumstances? POPLA has no power to allow an appeal simply because of mitigating circumstances e.g. “My ticket blew off the dashboard”. POPLA will make their decision based on fact of law. It is worth noting that if you’ve already gone through POPLA and lost, their decision is likely to be taken into account should the case reach court.
Do we take cases to the County Court? Post 1st October 2012 and the implementation of the Freedoms Act 2012, more operators will pursue unpaid charges through the courts (where necessary).
Where you are unsure of your rights and obligations after you have been issued with a parking charge, we encourage you to take legal advice from a qualified solicitor or from the Citizens Advice Bureau.