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Thug rule

I wonder if you could advise me please. On 17the October I delivered my daughter to our local Driving Theory Test centre and because she was very nervous I had to take her inside. I parked in the car park outside the centre, which is for the businesses located in the vicinity. As it was a Saturday, the car park was empty and I believed that I was an authorised parker as I was visiting one of the businesses. I received a Parking Charge notice three weeks later demanding £95 with a reduction to £75 if I paid straight away. The letter stated that I had parked for 10 minutes in an unauthorised space. I was shocked and did not pay this fine. I have now received a very threatening letter demanding immediate payment of £95 or face County Court with bailiffs recovering full costs. There was also a direct threat that my credit rating would be affected as a result of non-payment. I don't want to pay as this seems unfair considering the 'crime' and I am very concerned that these bullying tactics will intimidate many people. Please could you advise me what I should do?

Asked on 13 February 2010 by J.C., via e-mail

Answered by Honest John
It's illegal under the Administration of Justice Act 1970, which makes it a criminal offence to attempt to collect civil debts by causing distress and public humiliation. Report the matter to the police for intimidating behaviour and harassment. The parking enforcers can take the matter to court and sue you for breach of contract. But they have to notify you when and where. They cannot simply get a court order against you and employ bailiffs. Anything they do to affect your credit rating is libel, for which you could claim very considerable damage to your good name. The law covers this situation adequately with the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 which clearly provides under group 5 para 1(e) that "Terms may be unfair if they have the object or effect requiring any consumer who fails to fulfil his obligation to pay a disproportionate high sum in compensation". You will get further help from
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