Motoring group the RAC has said that tens of thousands of illegally issued parking private parking tickets may have to be refunded, as it has emerged that many of the fines, which are often too highly inflated, would not be enforceable in a court of law. The group has said that the total repayments could amount to tens of millions of pounds. A number of other ways in which the fines may be illegal or unenforceable were also brought up.
The government banned the use of clamps on private parking land, but critics at the time said that this would not prevent the problem of troublesome parking fines. Professor Glaister of the RAC has said that the problem has not gone away, and he has even said that drivers may be entitled to refunds of £100m stemming from illegal parking fines that were levied in the year 2013 alone.
The main point of contention regarding private parking fines is the issue of late return, meaning that a driver has paid for an allotted amount of time but failed to return and remove the vehicle within that period. Fines of up to £100 or more have been issued, in some cases against drivers that were only a matter of a few minutes late.
Prof Glaister has said that it is time that a legal challenge was brought against the fines, and reiterated the point that the government should do more to establish fair charges and fair fines, which would bring greater transparency. However, other potential problems with the system have also been highlighted, including the issuance of tickets that offer a reduction to those drivers that pay early.
According to experts, the early payment discounts that are sometimes offered by car park owners may be illegal under EU law. Such tickets offer a sizeable discount for those drivers that pay the fines quickly, and John de Waal QC has said that such a discount may mean that the EU courts would consider the fines to be unfair. This may mean that they would be unenforceable by the parking company.