Parking fines firm hits back

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Advice to drivers punished for sloppy parking in Derry retail parks to ignore fines has been criticised by the company which issues the penalties.

In last Friday’s edition of the ‘Journal’ Derry solicitor, Greg McCartney, advised that those who received fines of up to £90 at Lisnagelvin and Crescent Link Retail Parks to ignore them as they are “not enforceable in criminal law”.

However, the company which manages parking at the sites, UK Parking Control (UKPC), has hit back branding the advice “potentially misleading”. The company said: “UKPC clearly has strong grounds to bring an action for breach of contract to court for unpaid tickets.”

The statement added that there “is a clear legal basis” to bring a civil claim against a person who has parked a vehicle contrary to the terms and conditions stated at the site.

Mr McCartney said the company would have to prove a contract - which could only be with the driver, who would legally not have to be identified by the owner - to win its case. However, UKPC said it is not difficult to prove a contract exists.

It said that once a driver has parked a vehicle in a car park they are entering a contractual agreement with UKPC “according to the terms as clearly identified on signage displayed throughout the car park”.

Responding, Mr McCartney said he would “dispute” the claim that his advice was in anyway misleading: “The contract can only be with the driver. There is no legal requirement on the owner to confirm who the driver is. As most people who received tickets recently clearly were not aware of the terms and conditions of parking it is difficult for UKPC to prove a contract in any event. I do not say that UKPC will never succeed but that it faces an uphill struggle to prove any contract.

“A further point at issue is the amount of the penalty. In contract law damages are awarded to reflect the loss sustained once a breach has been proved. In my view, since these car parks are free, even if UKPC prove all the other necessary elements of contract, the measure of the loss can only be minimal. Anyone who has received UKPC parking tickets is urged to seek their own independent legal advice.”