Here is a copy of signage also on site, but which was not considered by the Supreme Court.
The difference is small but important.
Failure to comply with the following will result in a Parking Charge of £85.
Failure to comply with this will result in a Parking Charge of £85.The word 'this' is ambiguous. Does it refer to the whole sign? The following conditions? The preceding conditions? The conditions in the same font size?
Several judges have already considered this signage wording, and have concluded it is ambiguous. It is therefore a matter of incontrovertible fact that the sign is ambiguous. In such cases the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations 1999, section 7, comes into play, and the term must be interpreted to the benefit of the consumer. This has resulted in judges cancelling ParkingEye's claim in all known cases where it has been brought to their attention.
The judgments of ParkingEye v Collins-Daniel, ParkingEye v Lemon and Harris and Excel v Hetherington-Jakeman are examples of this, and can be found here.
"Failure to comply with this” Singular ‘this’: “will result in a parking charge of: £85” Now, what’s ‘this’ mean? [...] “Parking limited to 4 hours (no return within 1 hour)” Is that a ‘this’? If I return within one hour is that one of these ‘thises’?
So saying that there is a contract is one thing, but saying what the contract is is quite another, and I am not at all satisfied that there is a clear contract here to say that if you are a customer of the shops but you stay for more than four hours you have to pay £85
However, they have taken a point on the wording of the signs and the guidance to the claimants and other parking companies is that the signs should be unambiguous. Where it says two hours maximum stay, it does [inaudible] say, ‘Customer only parking, for use only whilst shopping in the store.’ It says, ‘No parking allowed outside these times,’which is Monday to Saturday 9:00 am to 8:00 pm, Sunday 10:00 am to 4:30 pm. It says, ‘Failure to comply with this will result in a parking charge of £100.’ I do not think that that is a clear sign. I know it says that parking is limited to two hours, but it does not say that there will be a fine of £100 if someone overstays their limit of two hours because it refers to no parking allowed outside these times and failure to comply with this will result in a parking charge of £100. That refers to the parking times Monday to Saturday 9:00 am to 8:00 pm and Sunday 10:00 am to 4:30 pm. Therefore, the sign is not clear and so the defendants succeed on that particular point.
ParkingEye are well aware of this, and have been changing signage to remove this wording.
What would the Supreme Court have made of this? The Prankster believes their underlying rationale may have remained the same. However, this particular case would have had to be found for the motorist, according to UTCCR 1999*.
So the big question is, was this omission from the evidence accidental or deliberate?
If you think the Supreme Court have reached the wrong decision because of incomplete evidence, consider signing Barry Beavis's petition to ask the Government to take a look at the level of private parking charges.
The Parking Prankster
*This has now been replaced by the Consumer Rights Act 2015, but the principle remains the same in the new act.