Woman ordered to pay £24,500 of private parking fines

A woman who ignored more than 200 parking tickets has been ordered to pay almost £25,000 in unpaid fines from a private company.

Sheriff George Way ruled that Miss Mackie should pay 24,500 in fines.

The judgement against Carly Mackie from a sheriff at Dundee Sheriff Court is a landmark ruling which experts fear could spark similar cases across Scotland.

Ms Mackie, who had parked her car outside of a flat rented by her mother and stepfather in Dundee's City Quay area, reportedly believed that private parking fines issued by Vehicle Control Services were unenforceable north of the border. Interest will be charged at eight per cent a year until the debt is paid.

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She said at the time that the fines were making her life "hellish".

She said: "I always make a point of parking in front of my own garage, where nobody else could park, and never parking on the double yellow lines on the road."

Sheriff George Way ruled: "[Miss Mackie] has, in my judgement, entirely misdirected herself on both the law and the contractural chain in this case."

He added: “She knew perfectly well what the signs displayed and that she was parking in breach of the conditions.

“She stated that (effectively a protest position) that parking charges were illegal and unenforceable in Scotland and that she could park where she liked as her father’s guest."

It is believed that the parking firm offered her a permit for £40 a year, but she refused.

Sheriff Way added: “The defender is not the tenant. The defender’s car was an additional burden on the parking facilities and she was the same as any other interloper. She was offered a permit by the factors (at a reasonable charge I think) but she refused on principle.”

Lawyers have previously claimed that motorists handed fines for parking on a private car park could legitimately challenge the parking ticket in Scotland’s courts.

Keith Dryburgh of Citizens Advice Scotland, which three years ago launched a major campaign to encourage people to challenge unfair parking fines, said: "We have seen a big increase in the number of people who have received unfair or disproportionate charges.

"Our It's Not Fine campaign sets out people's rights and encourages them to challenge charges they think have been applied unfairly."

The CAS report found that many Scots are being charged huge amounts of money for very short over-stays. It also found that private car parks often do not have clear signage setting out their fees and that many firms are using “aggressive and misleading” tactics when pursuing debts.

A statement by Debt Recovery Plus Ltd, which acted on behalf of the parking company, said: “This is understood to be the highest value parking charge case ever awarded in the United Kingdom.

“As some people in Scotland believe that parking charges are unenforceable (despite the landmark 2015 Supreme Court judgement ruling in favour of a parking operator) a record number of court cases are now being pursued in Scotland.

“We are happy to work with any Scottish motorist experiencing financial difficulties who would like to make a payment arrangement to settle historic charges before court action is taken.”