Many thousands of drivers who have been subject to a parking charge of 100 times or more the normal hourly rate will be displeased to read that a plucky appeal against a massive ‘charge’ for overstaying in a free car park has failed.

The motorist who brought the case was charged £85 for overstaying in a car park and brought a small claims court action against the company that levied the charge.

The motorist’s claim was based on the argument that the charge was so disproportionate as to be properly regarded as a penalty. Penalty clauses are not enforceable in British law.

However, the Court of Appeal ruled that the charge had been set at a level to deter overstaying and it was not ‘grossly disproportionate’. These factors meant it could not be regarded as a penalty.

This decision will come as a disappointment to the thousands of motorists who have been subject to charges on this sort of scale – often as a result of short overstays or ignorance that parking charges were payable.

Unless the case is successfully appealed to the Supreme Court (which seems unlikely), the likelihood that such a charge can be successfully resisted is clearly diminished.


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