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Campaign against illegal practices by private car park companies and debt collectors

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This petition is designed to challenge unlawful behaviour by private companies who are contracted to recover money from drivers who breach rules in privately owned car parks. In the UK, private car park operators (unlike local councils) have no statutory right to enforce parking charge notices. This means that entering and using a private car park is subject to civil contract law.

Anyone who has received a parking charge notice (PCN) imposing a fine or penalty (without first establishing their liability or the car park owners actual losses) is being unlawfully overcharged for breaching car park regulations. If a vehicle owner is pursued for this ‘debt’, it may also constitute unlawful harassment by the private car park operator. By signing this petition, you will generate letters of complaint to companies in the UK for which there is evidence that they have engaged in unlawful practices to collect bogus debts and fines (such as threatening letters to people who have used free private car park facilities).

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Under the UK’s 1688 Bill of Rights (still in force), it is illegal to issue fines or threats against a person unless the issuer is sure that the person is liable for a debt. In practice, this means that all Parking Charge Notices (PCNs) and correspondence issued by private companies are unlawful if the wording threatens a fine or legal action for contravention of car parking rules.

Secondly, any compensation for breaching car park regulations is subject to civil contract law. Only the actual loss incurred by the owner can be lawfully recovered. For example, if a car park charges £1 per hour, you pay for 1 hour and stay 3 hours, you need only pay £2 to satisfy the breach of contract. If a car park is offered free to shoppers, the owner suffers no loss if you stay longer than the stipulated time and there is other car parking space available.

In short, this means that all parking charge notices (PCNs) issued by private companies in ‘free’ car parks that impose a fine are illegal. All subsequent correspondence to recover money from the vehicle owner is unlawful harassment.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

1. Deny the claim until there is evidence that you were the driver of the vehicle.

2. If you have admitted you are the driver, pay only the amount of loss incurred by the owner of the car park (i.e. the amount you should have paid for additional car parking time). If the car park is free to shoppers/customers, do not pay anything and tell the owner they have not incurred any losses as a result of any breach of contract.

3. If you have compensated the owner of the car park as described in (2) and the owner pursues the PCN (either directly or through a debt collection agency), write to the issuer of the PCN stating that you regard their correspondence as harassing under the Protection from Harassment Act (1997), and that any further correspondence will trigger legal action to compensate you (or your family) for the distress it is causing.

4. If the car park owner pursues the matter to court, ask the court to dismiss the charge based on the ruling in Ford v Armstrong (1915) on the grounds that the issuer of the PCN is illegally levying a penalty for losses that they have not incurred.

If you have been subjected to any of the above, please send a message to the petition organiser providing the name/email address of the company that pursued you (this may be either a car park company or debt collection company). They will be added to the list of ‘targets’ so they are included in this campaign.



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