Penalty charge appeal defeat puts private parking firms in driving seat

Cost of overstaying your welcome could rise after judges' ruling

PRIVATE parking companies are celebrating after a motorist lost his court appeal against an £85 ticket.

Barry Beavis, a chip shop owner from Essex, claimed that the charge he received after overstaying the maximum two hours in a Chelmsford shopping centre was unreasonable and represented a penalty, which is illegal under common law.

If he had won the case, it could have brought an end to ticketing by private companies in car parks at service stations, fast-food restaurants and supermarkets.

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The Supreme Court rejected Beavis’s claim, saying that the amount charged was not a penalty but merely a charge to “encourage the prompt turnover of parking spaces and [for the parking company] to fund its own business activities and make a profit”.

Motoring groups that had supported Beavis said the ruling was a setback. “This opens the door for parking companies to increase their penalty demands and leaves the onus on motorists to fight sky-high charges on a case-by-case basis,” said Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation.

The government has previously indicated that it may limit how much private parking firms charge. The industry’s biggest trade body, the British Parking Association, has called for a summit between parking companies and motorists to develop new, fairer standards.