A cowboy parking firm met its match when it took a top barrister to court over an £85 fine.
ParkingEye sued Nicholas Bowen QC after he refused to pay a parking ticket for exceeding the free two-hour limit while he took a nap at a motorway service station at night.
But the controversial firm – which claims it wins 90 per cent of its county court hearings – may now regret taking Mr Bowen on after it was ordered to pay £1,550 in costs when the judge dismissed the case.
Mr Bowen argued that the company had no legal right to charge people for parking to take a nap in an empty service station car park at night. He said it was a breach of consumer protection law.
ParkingEye sued Nicholas Bowen QC after he refused to pay a parking ticket for exceeding the free two-hour limit while he took a nap at a motorway service station at night
Mr Bowen said he hoped ParkingEye ‘will learn a lesson from losing this case’, which he challenged on behalf of the general public.
The renowned barrister was fined after he decided to take a break while driving from Hereford to his home in London in May 2016.
He pulled into Welcome Break’s Membury services on the M4, planning to have a short nap.
‘It was just before midnight and the car park was virtually empty. I woke up at about 2.20am and, feeling refreshed, drove home,’ he said.
Mr Bowen insists there was no signage with parking information where he parked and he had exceeded the free period by only 20 minutes.
But ParkingEye, owned by Capita, which has issued more than 60,000 county court judgments (CCJs) against motorists in the past three years, claims he overstayed by 35 minutes and issued an £85 parking ticket.
Mr Bowen said it would have been ‘far easier’ to pay the ticket, but he decided to stand up to the firm on a ‘public interest basis’.
When the claim came to Bournemouth County Court, ParkingEye was not present, and the judge ordered the company to pay Mr Bowen’s costs.
In an email to the controversial company, Mr Bowen said: ‘It is a pretty poor show that, having issued proceedings, ParkingEye lacked the courage of its convictions or confidence to even turn up to the small claims court to argue about the commercial and legal justification for your business model.
When the claim came to Bournemouth County Court, ParkingEye was not present, and the judge ordered the company to pay Mr Bowen’s costs
‘My defence was that your contract was unenforceable, and that you have no legal right to charge members of the public for night parking in service station car parks.’
Mr Bowen is now demanding that the firm issues immediate payment to cover the costs of the work on his eight-page defence.
The barrister also accused ParkingEye of ‘indulging in pernicious bullying tactics against motorists’ and claimed it was relying ‘either on apathy, or that most of your victims lack the ability or funds to fight back’.
He added: ‘I hope ParkingEye will learn a lesson from losing this case, reconsider your contractual terms and change what is an unlawful and unconscionable practice.’
ParkingEye said it did send a representative to court but was told that the case was not on the list of hearings. It added that it was ‘considering its options within the time limits set out by the court’.