Excel Parking: Joy for Sheffield couple who challenged Berkeley Centre parking 'fine' and won

A Sheffield couple are celebrating after Excel Parking took them to court - and a judge threw out the case.
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The company sued the couple for not inputting their registration number correctly at Berkeley Centre on Ecclesall Road. But the legal claim - for failing to pay - was dismissed.

Deputy district judge Edwards said there was no breach of contract because they had paid the correct amount.

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The decision appears to call into question £100 ‘fines’ issued by the firm for keying errors or not paying ‘on arrival’, as reported in The Star.

The judgement states: “The claimant's case is in essence that the defendant was in breach of the terms of the contract imposed by parking and failing to pay the parking tariff.

“The defendant's case is that she paid the tariff but that there were some issues with the machine such that the correct VRN (registration number) could not be entered properly but that a ticket was provided with all other details correct.

“I have no hesitation in accepting the defendant's case. It is not contradicted by the claimant who appears to accept the defendant's evidence and as the contractual obligation is to pay the correct tariff and that is what the defendant did, there is no breach of contract.”

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The couple said they paid in full, displayed the ticket and left before it expired. And the ‘keying error’ was due to a faulty machine. The company rejected their appeal and over the next 17 months sent letters threatening debt collectors and court action, increasing their demands to more than £200.

Despite the stress the couple refused to cave in. Now they believe the judgement shows some, if not all, of Excel’s many terms and conditions are legally unenforceable.

They said: “This is a really important decision for users of Excel car parks at the Berkeley Centre, Broomhill and elsewhere, where the company has a policy of demanding £100, plus ‘costs’, for technical breaches of their terms and conditions, even when they have been paid in full. The court decision is absolutely clear: if the correct amount has been paid, there's no breach of contract, and no basis for parking and other additional charges.

“For us the key question is this: how much money has been handed over by how many people on the basis of illegitimate threats, including of court action, citing these terms and conditions?”

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A representative from Excel Parking Services Ltd said: “We are currently considering the judge's decision and as such it is not appropriate for us to comment at this stage.”

In Sheffield, Excel Parking is notorious for complex and secret rules at Berkeley Centre on Ecclesall Road, while a faulty system at its Broomhill rooftop car park wrongly issued £100 fines over an unknown period.

Shopkeepers have accused it of “killing” trade as drivers stay away.

Users also complain the firm’s machines are difficult to operate and demands can pass £200, backed by threats of court and debt collectors. Excel also controls the appeals service and funds industry regulator the IPC.

Earlier this month Sheffield MP Clive Betts urged government to “get a move on” and bring in new rules to curb rogue parking companies - shelved last year following a legal challenge from operators.