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Woman ordered to pay £24,500 in private parking charges

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A woman in Scotland had refused to pay a private car parking company £18,500-worth in private parking notices issued to her for parking at Dundee's Waterfront. She argued that they were unenforceable.

Ms Mackie lived with her stepfather who was a tenant in a flat near to the Waterfront. The flat had its own garage. A parking permit was offered to her for a space nearby for £40 per month, but she refused this. She claimed that she was entitled to park in the area because she was living there with her stepfather.

The court rejected her claim and held that, as a private company, Vehicle Control Services (VCS) was entitled to serve Ms Mackie with a 'Parking Charge Notice' under the contract that was entered into when Ms Mackie parked her car where she did. Parking Charge Notices are not the same as fines and, when issued by private companies, are enforceable under UK contract law principles, as long as there is adequate signage warning of such charges around the car park.

Parking Charge Notices, the type of notice issued in this case, can be issued by private companies on private land, such as a supermarket car park.

Penalty Charge Notices, on the other hand, are issued by the Council in relation to public land.

Failure to pay a Parking Charge Notice in cases where a valid 'contract' can be established would amount to a breach of contract, meaning that the company could take the motorist to court to recover the money.

This was a case in which it was held that Ms Mackie had entered into a valid contract with VCS and her argument that it was unenforceable was rejected by the court, who found in favour of VCS.

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Partner and trained mediator, Michael Callaghan would be pleased to assist you with all your litigation needs both private and commercial. Please feel free to contact him on either 01245 228136 or