Motorists slapped with fines while parked in private car parks will soon be able to appeal to an independent tribunal.
The Parking on Private Land Appeals scheme, launched by the British Parking Association (BPA), will become active on 1 October 2012, and will provide an appeals service similar to the one received by motorists who are given fines by local councils. It will coincide with the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 that will ban clamping and the removal of vehicles parked on private land.
Currently, those given tickets while parked on private car parks – e.g. at airports, train stations, shopping centres, hospitals or multi-storey car parks – are only able to appeal to the enforcement firm. If that fails, they are forced to either pay the fine or pursue the company through the courts.
The new scheme will allow them to present their case to an independent adjudicator, whose decision will be legally binding on the enforcement firm.
Only firms that are members of the BPA’s Approved Operator Scheme will be subject to the new tribunal service, but the AA is cautiously optimistic about the scheme.
AA head of public affairs Paul Watters said: "This is something we’ve been calling for for years. And it is certainly something that motorists need, but we need it to be done right.
"We’re seeing around two million tickets from private parking firms a year – and motorists often feel they’re being scammed. We need an independent appeals service that is fair and transparent and that can take action against the operators that take liberties with motorists.
"We just need to make sure its remit is broad enough that it actually has teeth."
According to Watters, the most common cause of complaints with private parking fines is over inadequate signage. Unlike council car parks, there are no regulations governing how much and how clear signage in private car parks needs to be.