A top Scots lawyer has called on citizens to reject unfair private car parking charges in a move that could save motorists tens of thousands in fines.
Mark Lindsay QC made his argument in a new guide published by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) today.
In it he said motorists should be able to read and understand signs outlining parking charges, as well as terms and conditions, before they park.
If signs are not readable and clear, providing a “genuine pre-estimate of loss”, then the fine is not enforceable, he argues.
He has also said that the £100 plus fines demanded by some companies are excessive, and therefore should not be paid.
Private car parking fines are a hot topic in Scotland, with many claiming that they are completely unenforceable.
Clamping in private car parks has been illegal for some time, but there remains some ambiguity in the law surrounding private fines.
In recent years many private parking businesses have been slated for aggressively pursuing excessive fines, obscuring the legal reality of the situation.
In its report on the matter, CAS have explained that the number of people seeking advice regarding parking fines has risen by 45% in the past year.
25,000 people contacted CAS for advice in March 2015 alone, regarding fees of up to £200.
In one extreme instance a lady in east Scotland had been charged £120 for staying 28 minutes longer than the free time permitted.
Mr Lindsay’s advice has now been hailed as an “important milestone in the campaign for fairer parking charges”, and is expected to bring greater clarity to the issue of private fines.
CAS head of policy Susan McPhee said: “Last year we launched a major campaign to highlight the issues and to urge people to fight unfair charges.
“However the problem was that the legal situation has always been unclear in Scotland, because it has never been defined. So that’s why we commissioned a formal legal opinion.
“Now for the first time ever in Scotland, we have that legal opinion. And it states clearly that people can challenge private parking fees on two specific grounds: the size of the charge and whether the charges were adequately displayed in the car park.”