A leading Dundee lawyer has warned private parking companies will take more people to court to recoup unpaid penalties.
In a landmark civil case, Sheriff George Way ordered 28-year-old Carly Mackie to pay £24,500 to Vehicle Control Services after she tore up more than 200 tickets she was given for parking illegally on City Quay
Thorntons associate Lauren Rae said Dundee woman Miss Mackie may just be the first in a line of drivers pursued through the courts by private parking companies now a clear precedent has been set.
There had been dubiety over whether penalties enforced by private parking companies were enforceable in Scotland but the Supreme Court riled in 2015 that they are enforceable so long as there are clear displays informing drivers of parking prohibitions.
Ms Rae said drivers who use private parking car parks and ignore their rules are technically in breach of contract and liable for any charges or penalties as a result.
And she warned companies will be able to pursue unpaid penalties dating back five years.
She said: “Private parking fines are charges and they are enforceable.
“There was a lot of uncertainty because it was never something that had really been challenged in court but in 2015 there was a Supreme Court case – the highest court in the UK – that said they are enforceable.
“What we are seeing now is the application of that locally.”
Ms Rae added: “I suspect there are going to be even more of these cases.
“I don’t think it will be cases where there are one or two tickets but people who have been piling up tickets and just ignoring them.”
And she warned because the cases will be viewed as a breach of contract, companies could still pursue motorists for debts up to five years ago.
But Ms Rae said it will be tougher for private parking firms to pursue Scots through the courts.
She said: “They will still have to prove who was driving.
“In England, the registered keeper of the car is liable but that is not the case in Scotland.
“So in order to be successful the parking companies will have to prove who was driving and be able to demonstrate that the satisfaction of a court.”
In his judgement, Sheriff George Way ruled that Carly Mackie had “entirely misdirected herself on both the law and the contractual chain in this case”.
Miss Mackie’s mother had indicated the 28-year-old may now continue her fight and take her case to the Sheriff Appeals Court.