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Parking Tickets on Private Land

If you have recently been issued a parking ticket on private land, such as supermarkets like Asda or Tesco, you may be wondering if you actually need to pay it, and what would happen if you didn’t.

First thing is first: there is no statutory law or legislation in Scotland regarding Private Parking Tickets. Nothing at all. However, by entering private land, you automatically enter a contract with the land owner which means that you automatically agree to the terms and conditions of the land set out by the owner. This is how companies are able to get around the “no legislation” tripe and are able to take you to court for breach of contract (common law).

In the case that you do receive a “parking ticket” whilst on private land, don’t be fooled – this may look like a fixed penalty notice that you would receive from an authorised Traffic Warden or Police Officer but it is not. It is in fact a notice that the car park operator plans to take you to civil court; it is not a criminal matter. On the other hand, the notice offers the receiver an option to pay a charge (which is set by the land owner) in order for the matter to be resolved without going to court.

The courts’ stance on this matter however, has recently changed. Before November 2015, companies could only claim back the amount that they estimated they would have lost which, for example, over-staying your welcome in a supermarket car park by an hour, would be infinitesimal in the grand scheme of things, let’s be honest. Not only did the car park operators have to prove in court that they would have made a financial loss by your prolonged presence, but they also had to prove that you were the one who was driving the vehicle. These companies do not have the power to question you on this front, so the majority of cases were written off. Now, on the other hand, is a different kettle of fish. In November 2015, a new court ruling stated that the Supreme Court finds the cost of private parking notices as “fair” and back the notices. This new ruling means that the companies are now able to recover the full amount of the fine that they have imposed if they do take you to court.

If you receive a “ticket” and choose not to pay the fine and do not reply to the operator, the operator may send you chaser letters via the post. These letters usually threaten to take you to civil court if payment is not met within a certain deadline. Please be aware that the cost for taking somebody to court can run into the hundreds of pounds and usually the sum that they are wishing to recover is comparatively much smaller. As a result, it is very likely that the operator will not follow through with this if this is a one-time thing. It would be more likely that they take you to court if you are a persistent offender as the recovery amount would be much higher.

You do not need to reply to any letter that you receive from the operator. However, if you do receive a summons from the small claims court, it would be in your best interest to seek legal advice.

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