Private parking charges: Your rights

parking notice at McDonald's The branch of McDonald's in West London where Mr Bhatia was charged £100

Related Stories

Moez Bhatia received a nasty surprise in the post last month - a parking ticket for leaving his car for more than an hour at a McDonald's car park.

Mr Bhatia was not just shocked by the amount that was being asked for, £100, but because he thought he had done everything possible to avoid getting stung.

"I saw the restriction there. As I was definitely going to be there for more than 60 minutes, I asked the staff if I could park the car for more than 60 minutes.

"And the staff said, 'Yes, you can park it'. Had they declined my request, I would have gone back to the car and driven off," he told the BBC.

In the majority of cases, the car parks are run by a third-party company. This was true for Mr Bhatia as well. He immediately contacted McDonald's, which advised him to contact the operator concerned, MET Parking.

parking tickets Most people do not bother to appeal

So what are your rights should you find yourself dealing with a private parking operator?

Appeal procedure

Mr Bhatia is not alone. Around 1.8 million parking charge notices are issued to motorists who have been deemed to be parked illegally on private land.

But when it comes to fighting such charges, he is in the minority. Only 13,415 go through the official appeal procedures.

The body that oversees the way private car parks are run, the British Parking Association, believes that the appeals process is fair and relatively easy to navigate. It points out that almost half of all appeals find in favour of the motorist.

BPA chief executive Patrick Troy says private car parking companies are considerate.

"One of the things we've done is to establish an independent appeals service with independent redress for motorists," he says.

"That's a really important benefit for motorists, to protect their interests when they get tickets in those circumstances."

Parking on private land: Top tips

parking ticket
  • Always look for signs setting out parking rules.
  • Read and note the parking rules.
  • Stick to the rules, eg, don't park in bays reserved for disabled badge holders.
  • Just because you don't see enforcement taking place it doesn't mean it isn't; cameras may be in use.
  • If you have a parking charge notice put on your car, don't ignore it.
  • If you feel a parking charge notice is wrong or has been applied unfairly, gather evidence before you leave; take a careful note of signage and take photos if you can.
  • If your car is wheel-clamped in a car park where no by-law is displayed, call the police.
  • If heavy-handed ticketers demand money on the spot and that you pay in cash, drive away or consider calling the police.

Source: AA

This appeal service is free and run by an organisation called Parking on Private Land Appeals (Popla).

Mr Troy would like all private car park operators to use it. Currently, many car parks at railway stations and airports do not use Popla and so motorists cannot use its appeal service.

Your rights

Wheel-clamping on private land in England and Wales has been illegal since October 2012.

In Scotland, clamping on private land has been banned since 1992. Northern Ireland has a code of practice.

Parking control companies are legally allowed to pursue motorists for any unpaid parking charge notices.

However, parking enforcement on private land is unregulated and it relies on the laws of contract and trespass.

Motorists are deemed to have accepted the parking terms and sanctions if there is adequate signage.

Several organisations, including the AA, have campaigned for private parking to be regulated, but this has not happened.

Operators are also within their rights to send you a ticket through the post.

The AA advises motorists not to pay any money on the spot.

All bona fide operators will allow you to pay by post.

If you disagree with the ticket, the AA suggests you should gather any evidence, such as photographs.

You should then follow the instructions on the ticket concerning the appeals procedure.

Campaigner and author of the book, "The Parking Ticket Awards: Crazy Councils, Meter Madness and Traffic Warden Hell", Barrie Segal, is not convinced that the industry is fair to motorists.

He also does not believe we should ignore these tickets, but at the same time doesn't believe POPLA's appeal service is the only route to follow.

His advice is to get your case heard and not get bogged down in a stream of continuous letter writing.

Mr Segal says this is what you should tell the parking company:

"I want my day in court, if you're going to pursue this. If you go to court, I want you to demonstrate:

1) There was a contract

2) That you're entitled to receive the money

3) That it isn't a penalty and

4) That what you've asked for is a genuine pre-estimated loss"


McDonald's told the BBC that it does not profit from operations run by MET Parking.

But it did say that it had to impose parking restrictions because of mini-cab drivers using its car parks as waiting bays.

It also said that some motorists have left their cars outside MacDonald's while using nearby airports or shopping centres.

"In each of our restaurants where parking restrictions have been introduced, we work with industry-approved contractors to make the parking policy as fair and as clearly communicated as possible," a spokesperson said.

However, after being contacted by the BBC, McDonald's did issue an apology and cancelled Mr Bhatia's parking charge.

Others may not be quite so fortunate.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Business stories


Business Live

    09:10: Facebook friends Russia

    On its front page, The Independent reports that Facebook has been accused of giving in to censorship after it apparently blocked access to a protest page on its site - under pressure from the Kremlin. A former US ambassador to Russia describes it as a "horrible precedent". According to The Daily Telegraph, Facebook has declined to comment on the suggestion that it stopped Russian users from viewing a page, rallying support for one of President Putin's most prominent opponents.

    08:55: UK jobs Radio 5 live

    The employers' organisation, the CBI, says its latest survey suggests that half of its members plan to take on more staff next year. "Skills are at a premium in lots of areas," says CBI's director for employment and skills, Neil Carberry. "In fact one of the things we found in this year's survey is the biggest worry now for companies in their broadly rosy picture is whether they can get the skills they need to keep growing."

    08:45: Markets update

    The main European markets are all looking rather chirpy this morning. Gains for oil firms, including Tullow Oil, Royal Dutch Shell and BP are driving the FTSE up 1% to 6,608. That's partly because Brent Crude has risen by 2% to $62.24 a barrel. In Germany, the Dax is up 0.9% to 9872, while in France, the Cac-40 is up 1.2% to 4293.

    Cranking up Lada 08:28: Via Email Tony Higgins Lada owner

    "We had a Lada Niva. We bought it when we moved to a Lancashire hill farm in 1993. It was great. The early years were bad winters but the Lada coped very well. It was like a crab both on and off road, permanent 4WD. No power steering so hard work."

    08:12: Pull over, Uber

    Uber may have been valued at $40bn, but one Chinese tech firm could now be worth an estimated $45bn, despite being relatively unknown outside Asia. The WSJ reports that smartphone and tablet maker Xiaomi, whose polished branding and devoted fan base is reminiscent of Apple's, has overtaken Samsung in China, but faces several challenges in expanding into India and beyond.

    07:54: Cranking up Lada

    So, on to some of those Lada jokes. What do you call a Lada with a sun roof? A skip. What do you call a Lada with a sunroof and twin exhausts? A wheelbarrow. Etc. Send us your favourite Lada jokes: and we will publish the best. Or if you've driven a Lada, and think they get a bad rap, let us know.

    07:49: Cranking up Lada

    The New York Times reports that the Kremlin is seeking to revive Russia's last major Soviet brand - the carmaker Lada. It has recruited Swedish-American Bo Inge Andersson, previously a vice president at General Motors. Lada, historically the butt of many jokes, still accounts for a third of all cars in Russia, and as foreign companies like Audi and Jaguar Land Rover suspend sales in the country due to the plummeting rouble, the utilitarian company could return to strength.

    07:35: B&Q China

    Kingfisher says it will flog its controlling 70% stake in B&Q China to Wumei Holdings for £140m. It opened its first B&Q in the country in 1999.

    07:25: Oil blessing?

    The Guardian's leader takes a contrarian stance on falling oil prices, which have been widely welcomed by Western consumers. "Oil has dipped 40%, pessimists fear, because the world no longer expects a return to economic full pelt," it argues. "Europe, Japan and - relative to its own vigorous standards - China, have all been looking anaemic this year. Like low blood pressure after a heart attack, then, cheap oil should arguably be regarded not as a sign of rude health, but rather as a consequence of malaise."

    07:12: Budget Samsung

    $100 for a Samsung smartphone? CNBC reports the South Korean company is entering the increasingly competitive budget handset market, in a bid to sell more phones in India, where many people still use simple phones. The new handset will run Samsung's own Tizen software.

    06:58: Rates Radio 5 live

    The Bank of England's Martin Weale adds that he is optimistic about the year ahead. More money to spend from cheaper oil will help. He's on the committee that helps decide the key interest rate. Will it rise this year? He's careful not to second-guess his colleagues on that one.

    06:46: Santa rally? Radio 5 live

    Will there be a so-called Santa rally this year? A rise in markets in the days around Christmas? Brenda Kelly from IG says you see one in almost nine out of every 10 years since the '80s.

    06:28: Rates Radio 5 live

    The Bank of England's Martin Weale has been telling Wake Up to Money why he's been voting for interest rates to move off the record low of 0.5%. "It isn't only that unemployment has been falling - at least until recently extremely rapidly. It's also that when I go and visit businesses throughout the country I find they're talking of pay increases in a way quite different from what I was hearing early in the year certainly this time last year."

    06:16: Markets Radio 5 live

    Brenda Kelly from IG is Wake Up to Money's markets guest. They are talking about the falling oil prices. "A lot of it is down to a glut of supply and Saudi Arabia wants to keep market share," she says. Saudi's breakeven price is only a few dollars per barrel.

    06:10: Christmas spending Radio 5 live

    Mark Barnett, UK & Ireland president of Mastercard, is on Wake Up to Money, talking about Christmas shopping habits. What else? People have returned to luxury goods, he said. Holidays and furniture are down a little bit though.

    06:04: Hacking 2.0
    Kim Jong

    The global cyberwar that dominated headlines last week shows no signs of abating. Hackers have infiltrated South Korea's nuclear power provider, and posted schematics of nuclear reactors and private personal records online. It's not clear whether the same group that attacked Sony Pictures is responsible.

    06:00: Howard Mustoe Business reporter

    Morning! Get in touch. Tell us what you think. Email or on Twitter @BBCBusiness

    06:00: Joe Miller Business Reporter

    Good morning, and festive greetings all round. In a week when the business world is winding down for Christmas, we'll bring you all the news that's sneaking in the back door, and much more besides.



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.