winning in court
If, and i do really mean if in the very rare times a private parking company actually takes you to court, you do not have anything to worry about. I know, because its happened to me.
OPC took me to court for an unpaid parking ticket issued at watford underground station and lost in sheffield magistrates court because:
1. they failed to establish any legal basis for them to be entitled to the money. (they tried several approaches, but could not provide a satisfactory explanation of why i owed them the money*)
2. They failed to establish any legal basis for them to offer parking at the site. Their contract with the land owner was for parking enforcement only.
3. They failed to convince the magistrate that the signs provided clarity that the area was not part of the pay and display car park, referring to 'permits' on the 14th line of text (the smallest text on the sign) and by not including the word "resident" it left open the fact that i had a permit, issued by the pay and display machine.
4. They failed to convince the magistrate that the non-existent markings between the pay-and-display car park and the residents only parking would alert a reasonably careful driver, that they had entered a completely separate car park, that did not offer pay and display parking.
I was awarded £125 costs.
* They tried to use the "pre-estimate of damages" approach initially, but were unable to provide a any basis for estimation of damages, never mind that they could prove predated when I parked thereor when they put the sign up. They then attempted to use the "it was an offer to allow parking without a permit, on payment", but the sign both forbid parking there without a permit, but the magistrate also agreed with me that no one would willingly choose to enter into parking there for £140, making such a contractual offer unenforceable. Their final plea to the magistrate was that the debt came about because i did not pay the parking ticket, and that they didn't understand the law well enough to be able to explain in legal terms how parking penalty tickets are legal. The magistrate in her summing up was very clear. In the absence of damage, or financial loss, such charges can only be considered penalties, and as such are not collect-able through the courts.