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QC bests parking company over £85 fine

Lawyer criticises ParkingEye for ‘indulging in pernicious bullying tactics against motorists’

1 September 2017

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A silk who was fined £85 for taking a midnight nap at a service station has emerged victorious in court against a car park management company that sued him.

Nicholas Bowen QC of Doughty Street Chambers parked up at an M4 service station in May 2016 so he could take a nap before continuing his drive home. However, the car park in question only had a free two-hour parking limit, which Bowen overstayed by around 20 minutes, resulting in an £85 ticket from ParkingEye, the Guardian reported.

Bowen said he was so tired when he drove into the car park that he didn’t notice any parking information. He later discovered there was a reference to paying for 24/7 parking but that the charging information was in “microscopic print in a different part of the car park requiring 20/20 vision or a magnifying glass”.

Bowen appealed to ParkingEye, and subsequently Popla, the independent appeals service for parking notices issued on private land, but the ticket was upheld. ParkingEye sued Bowen when he refused to pay the fine.

When the case came before court on 18 August, ParkingEye didn’t show up and the case was struck out with the company ordered to pay Bowen’s costs. The management company said it had send a representative to court, but they were told the hearing had been taken off the list.

In a subsequent email to the company seen by the Guardian, Bowen said: “My defence was that your contract was unenforceable, and that you have no legal right to charge members of the public for night parking in service station car parks.

“Charging overstayers at night is unfair and a violation of consumer protection law. I defended your misconceived claim on a public interest basis, as it would have been far easier just to pay the ticket.”

Bowen, who had prepared an eight-page defence for the case, demanded the immediate costs payment and condemned ParkingEye for “indulging in pernicious bullying tactics against motorists”.

ParkingEye said it is “considering its options”.

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