Why Mr Beavis Lost Parking Fine Case Is Not So Bad for Motorists


We've all been guilty of accidentally overstaying on a parking place, and running back to the car in the vain hope of avoiding a ticket! It's with this in mind that many of us are disappointed to hear that Mr Barry Beavis, the chip shop owner who fought to take his case against ParkingEye as far as the Supreme Court, has lost his case.

Arif Khalfe, our Commercial Law specialist explains the practical explanation for this decision, how this has clarified landowner's rights and why the ruling is actually not that unfavourable for motorists.

Beavis' Case in the Supreme Court

Mr Beavis, from Chelmsford, Essex, was faced with an £85 charge from ParkingEye for overstaying by 52 minutes on a free 2 hour parking space. The case reached the Supreme Court and centred on whether the ParkingEye fine could be classed as a penalty. Penalties are only lawful when a loss is incurred, but in this case the company does not suffer a loss.

The Supreme Court's judgment was that it is in the interests of customers and the public for the company to use a fine to be able to control access to the car park.
The ruling essentially sees an extension of the previous rule that penalties can only be justified if there is a genuine loss, and now includes situations where there is commercial or public justification for them.

Arif discusses the implications of the ruling:

"This need to re-address the law on parking penalties has been long overdue, and we're certainly pleased that the landowners we represent will have greater clarity and understanding moving forward."

"As well as this, the decision to side with landowners in this case is in some ways a good thing for motorists. If it had been found that fines imposed for overstaying on free parking spaces are unlawful, landowners would then be put in a situation where they would have no choice but to charge for parking as a whole."

Fines "Fair" and "Legally Enforceable"?

The Judges in the case decided that the charges are "fair, reasonable and legally enforceable", however, outside the court Mr Beavis commented on the £85 charge; "What is not excessive to a judge who earns £214,000 a year is very excessive to a family on benefits". He also raised concerns of parking companies deciding to increase their charges in future.
The British Parking Association (BPA) agreed with the ruling but chief executive Patrick Troy explained there is a need for the government to "establish a standard-setting body with an independent scrutiny board."

At Simpson Millar we're pleased to see a much needed clarification of the law on the rights between landowners, parking companies and motorists.

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