On Facebook recently some friends were posting about a supermarket requiring customers to enter car registration details on a terminal in the store and then scan their shopping receipt if the carpark had been used. How I understand it works is that is that if users of the carpark don’t validate their parking in the store (as you might at a cinema or shopping mall) they will be sent an automatic parking charge.     

Several people commented under the post that such private parking fines were illegal in Scotland. Not so I’m afraid, and that popular misconception prompted me to review a case from earlier this year.             

In January 2017 in the case of Vehicle Control Services v Mackie, http://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/search-judgments/judgment?id=a48631a7-8980-69d2-b500-ff0000d74aa7, the unfortunate Ms Mackie was found liable to pay £24,500 in parking charges to the owners of a private car park.    

In brief, the facts were that Ms Mackie was in the habit of parking in a private car park attached to a development in which her parents owned a flat. Signs were clearly displayed stating that a charge would be levied if a parked vehicle did not display a permit. The charge which was levied was £100 per day discounted to £60 for payment within 14 days. Ms Mackie did not have a permit, although her parents could have sought one for her use. The key legal finding was that the signs created a contract with the person who chose to park a vehicle as that person was deemed to have accepted the terms for parking.

This decision refers to and agrees with comments in the Supreme Court case of ParkingEye Ltd v Beavis  (https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/uksc-2015-0116.html) in which the Court found that the objectives of owners protecting parking amenity and funding it through user charges to be “perfectly reasonable in themselves”.   

You will have become aware of such signs becoming more prevalent and noticeable particularly at supermarkets and retail parks. While each case will depend on its own facts and circumstances compliance with any signs and notices that regulate parking wherever you might choose to park is recommended. As Ms Mackie found, the consequences of not doing so can be very expensive.