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Penalties for overstaying are a 'normal feature of parking contracts' - the Supreme Court rules

A motorist lost his Supreme Court challenge against ‘unfair’ fines imposed by a car park, in a case which will set a precedent in consumer contracts law.

Claimant Barry Beavis took action after he was given an £85 parking ticket for overstaying a two-hour parking limit. The Court of Appeal ruled against him in April and the matter was referred to the Supreme Court.

Beavis v ParkingEye hinged on whether the fine charged by parking management company ParkingEye is classed as a penalty, which under conventional principles would make it unlawful.

The Supreme Court ruled that the fine was not a penalty as the charge authorises the company to control access to the car park in the interest of customers and the wider public.

Supreme Court president Lord Neuberger and Lord Sumption ruled that the charge was not unfair, and that penalties for exceeding the pre purchased parking time are a ‘normal feature of parking contracts’.

‘The risk of having to pay [the fine] was wholly under the motorist’s own control. All he needed was a watch,’ the judges said.