A woman has just landed herself an eye-wateringly large fine after failing to pay more than 200 parking charge notices racked up in Dundee, Scotland.
28-year-old Carly Mackie had been parking her Mini outside her mother and step-father’s garage near their home in Dundee, believing that the tickets issued by private firm Vehicle Control Services were unenforceable.
However Sheriff George Way decided otherwise and ordered Ms Mackie to pay £24,500 in damages, sending a strong message to those who try think parking charge notices can be ignored.
In his verdict, Sheriff George Way said Ms Mackie had “entirely misdirected herself on both the law and the contractual chain in this case,” and that “she knew perfectly well what the signs displayed and that she was parking in breach of the conditions”.
At the ruling at Dundee Sheriff Court, he added: “She stated that (effectively as a protest position) that parking charges were illegal and unenforceable in Scotland and that she could park where she liked as her father’s guest.
“The defender is not the tenant. The defender’s car was an additional burden on parking facilities and she was the same as any other interloper.
“She was offered a permit by the factors (at a reasonable charge I think) but she refused on principle. Parking is not only an amenity but a valuable commodity in modern life.”
The parking space Ms Mackie had been using was in an area reserved for residents. She had been using it since at least 2015, according to reports, and had refused to pay the £40-a-month permit cost.
Ms Mackie is yet to comment on the ruling, but in 2015 she argued her case. “We have a right to park in front of our own property. I’ve considered moving out. It just makes my life so hellish.”
She added: “I always make a point of parking in front of my own garage, where nobody else could park, and never parking on the double yellow lines on the road.”
Vehicle Control Services took Ms Mackie to court in 2016 after her parking notice bill had reached £18,500 ─ £6,000 less than what she now has to pay in damages. The fine is believed to be the highest ever recorded in the UK.
The confusion surrounding parking laws may have stemmed from advice on the internet, which suggests only Parking Charge Notices (PCN for short) are enforceable. But law stipulates that by parking in a restricted area the driver is entering into a legally enforceable contract.
If in doubt, it is best to go without parking as you could land yourself a fine and, if you refuse to pay, a nice day out in court where the private firm will try to force a payment. Neither is much fun.
With that said, cases where you think the parking notice is unfair or too expensive for the length of time you parked for could potentially be argued. There have been cases of motorists admitting wrongdoing but agreeing to pay a more reasonable sum.
Gathering proof of the error is essential and kicking up a stink on social media to voice your annoyance can work in your favour, particularly if a well-known company is using the services of a private parking firm.
Whatever you do, ensure the fine is definitely dropped or paid because, as this story shows, you may end up severely out of pocket.