Readers emails: No evidence of payment

From: Bob
Subject: General enquiry

Very informative side thank you.

in an ANPR controlled car parks

1. Is there a time limit to leave after payment?.
2. Is it written in law that transaction of making payment either by cash or bank card at the machine MUST be followed by automatic dispensing of payment receipt.
3.The machines have the ability to photograph, the ability to time and charge for your stay, but do not have the ability/software to record your payment. Therefore with no recorded payment information how would one fight an unfair pcn.
Thanks for your time

Hi Bob,

In response to your questions:

>> 1. Is there a time limit to leave after payment?.

There is nothing in law, since private parking is not regulated. Private parking companies who operate ANPR systems will be members of an ATA; either the BPA or the IPC. The BPA have just changed their BPA Code of Practice to add a specific grace period after the parking period has ended. This states:

13.4) You should allow the driver a reasonable period to leave the
private car park after the parking contract has ended, before
you take enforcement action. If the location is one where
parking is normally permitted, the Grace Period at the end
of the parking period should be a minimum of 10 minutes.

The IPC code of practice is much more ambiguous:

17.2) Drivers should be allowed a sufficient amount of time to leave
a site after a pre-paid or permitted period of parking has expired.
 In the IPC case, who is to say what is sufficient and what is not? Over the years we have heard numerous examples of tickets being issued for going 30 seconds or a few minutes over.
>> 2. Is it written in law that transaction of making payment either by cash or bank card at the machine MUST be followed by automatic dispensing of payment receipt.
Again, there is no specific law for private parking. This would likely be covered by the relevant sale of goods and services legislation, and also by VAT legislation (if they are charging VAT). It is my understanding that you are entitled to proof of purchase, although I don’t believe they must issue it automatically.
The BPA code of practice does require operators to issue a receipt
35.5) You must give a receipt whenever a payment is made in
person, and when you are asked for one for a postal payment.
It’s not clear from your email what the situation is, but if you paid by card, you will have proof of purchase from your bank/credit card statement.
>> 3.The machines have the ability to photograph, the ability to time and charge for your stay, but do not have the ability/software to record your payment. Therefore with no recorded payment information how would one fight an unfair pcn.
It really depends on the specific circumstances as to whether there will be records. If you paid by card, the car park operator will have records of transactions by card so you can demonstrate you paid. If the machine took a registration with payment, then they will have records of which registrations were paid for (assuming you entered it correctly..?).
Ultimately the validity of a private parking charges are decided by a county court, whereby the decision would be on the balance of probabilities. If you can show  evidence that you’ve paid (bank statement, receipt, ticket etc) then that should give you a a reasonable defence in an appeal.
However, we would also recommend you build a layered defence citing multiple points. There are many reasons why a £70-100 ‘fine’ may not be enforcable. In the case where parking is charged for, if you have failed to pay, say, £2, then how is £70-100 reasonable as a charge later?
My advice to you would be to build a trail of reasonableness. By this I mean to be as reasonable as possible in your dealings with the parking company should it reach court in the end. So for example, offer without prejudice a settlement of the missing payment plus a small amount of expenses (e.g. £5/£10). In that case, if they held out for £70-100, they would look unreasonable.
Have a look on the forums for similar cases too – i.e. for that operator and situation – and see how others have fought the charges.

Best of luck

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