Do you know your car's MoT and mileage history? Our user profiles will show you for FREE | No thanks
Legal status Supermarket car park? - Petel
In post 8 of Greenhay's thread " Supermaket ding " there is a link to an item about the behavior of the local " Boy racers " in a supermarket car park in Sheffield.

In the article it states:-

" These car parks are classed as public roads and therefore are governed by the Road Traffic Act 1988. "

Given that the supermarket owns the land and that I have checked ( with the local Highways Authority ) all the supermarkets in my area and have confirmed that their car parks are not classed as " Adopted Public Highway " can anyone please offer definative confirmation as to whether or not the above is the case?

Thank you
Legal status Supermarket car park? - bathtub tom
I'm not sure of the exact status, but when my daughter had an accident in a supermarket car park, and the other driver turned out to be not insured, plod became very interested. He was prosecuted despite no evidence that he'd driven on public highway.
IIRC it's something to do with the public having access.
Legal status Supermarket car park? - daveyjp
They are known as 'routes of good intention' and therefore the RTA applies.

A friends car was pinned into a space at Wakefield station after a car's handbrake failed and rolled into it. He called the police and they used the 'private land' card so he ended up being stuck there for hours whilst it was sorted out.

Fortunately one of his staff was married to a police inspector for the same force who advised him of the law. He eventually revceived a full apology form the Chief Constable admitting the officer got it wrong and private land was no excuse as the car park was a public place.

In a similar vein a colleagues son was accused of being drunk in charge of a vehicle whilst parked in a public access car park.
Legal status Supermarket car park? - Pugugly
Common Misunderstandings.
There are different types of public roads.

Your basic road is a "Road" under the Road Traffic Act when the public have access. These types of roads need insurance and MoT. They may be roads that are not necessarily owned or maintained at public expense - such as in certain cases supermarket car-parks. Roads maintainable at public expense (where you need to have tax on your car) are generally Road Traffic Act roads. In certain cases (usually there is case law to back it up) privately owned "roads" can become Road Traffic Act roads but never "tax" roads. Don't even think about public places as far as breathalyser offences are concerned.

Complicated - Yes.
Legal status Supermarket car park? - jbif
" These car parks are classed as public roads and therefore are governed by the Road Traffic Act 1988. "

"Road traffic law .... Most of the provisions apply on all roads throughout Great Britain
..... references to ?road? therefore generally include footpaths, bridleways and cycle tracks, and many roadways and driveways on private land (including many car parks). In most cases, the law will apply to them ..."

Legal status Supermarket car park? - Pugugly
A fair summary. There's no rule of thumb. Even if there is signage on a piece of car park that is a "road" it may well be unenforceable as it isn't "lawfully placed"
Legal status Supermarket car park? - martint123
I thought they went after the boy racers under the "likely to cause harrasment or distress" umbrella.

Ah yes... The Police Reform Act 2002...


59 Vehicles used in manner causing alarm, distress or annoyance

(1) Where a constable in uniform has reasonable grounds for believing that a motor vehicle is being used on any occasion in a manner which?

(a) contravenes section 3 or 34 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (c. 52) (careless and inconsiderate driving and prohibition of off-road driving), and

(b) is causing, or is likely to cause, alarm, distress or annoyance to members of the public,

he shall have the powers set out in subsection (3).

(2) A constable in uniform shall also have the powers set out in subsection (3) where he has reasonable grounds for believing that a motor vehicle has been used on any occasion in a manner falling within subsection (1).

(3) Those powers are?

(a) power, if the motor vehicle is moving, to order the person driving it to stop the vehicle;

(b) power to seize and remove the motor vehicle;

(c) power, for the purposes of exercising a power falling within paragraph (a) or (b), to enter any premises on which he has reasonable grounds for believing the motor vehicle to be;

(d) power to use reasonable force, if necessary, in the exercise of any power conferred by any of paragraphs to (a) to (c).

(4) A constable shall not seize a motor vehicle in the exercise of the powers conferred on him by this section unless?

(a) he has warned the person appearing to him to be the person whose use falls within subsection (1) that he will seize it, if that use continues or is repeated; and

(b) it appears to him that the use has continued or been repeated after the the warning.

Edited by Dynamic Dave on 31/05/2008 at 00:14

Legal status Supermarket car park? - CGNorwich
It is an offence to use (or permit to be used) a motor vehicle on a road or public place when there is not in force a relation to the use of the vehicle such a policy of insurance in respect of third party risks as complies with the Road Traffic Act.
(Road Traffic Act 1988 s143 (C2)

There is considerable case law around definition of a public place. The driveway to your own house is probably not. A road in a public park almost certainly is. Much depends on the level of unrestricted access allowed to the public.
Legal status Supermarket car park? - Stuartli
It was in the early 1990s that a ruling was made that stated that any private road, such as a supermarket car park, came under the auspices of the Road Traffic Act.

Googling will provide a full range of circumstances under which this applies.
Legal status Supermarket car park? - bathtub tom
Worms, of, can ????
Legal status Supermarket car park? - Petel
Many thanks to you all, for your replies.
Legal status Supermarket car park? - Dwight Van Driver
Originally certain offences under RT Acts, i.e. use without Insurance, drink drive were legislated to be committed on a 'road' which has been defined in posts above. Subsequently added to where these offences could be committed was the term 'public place'.

Public Place under the Road Traffic Act

In order for it to be proven that somewhere is a "Public Place" for the purposes of road traffic offences it must be shown by the prosecution that:

Those people who are admitted to the place in question are members of the public and are admitted as such, not as members of some special or particular class of the public (eg people belonging to an exclusive club i.e. lane leading to a Rugby Club and used only by them) or as a result of some special characteristic that is not shared by the public at large, and;

Those people are so admitted with the permission, express or implied, of the owner of the land in question.

(DPP v Vivier [1991]RTR 205)

Places that have stated cases that show them to be public places are:

1. A privately-owned Caravan site open to campers (DDP v Vivier [1991] RTR 205)

2. A school playground used outside of school hours as a leisure park by members of the public (Rodger v Normand 1994 SCCR 861)

3. The "Inward Freight Immigration Lanes" at Dover Eastern Docks (DPP v Coulman [1993] RTR 230)

4. A field used in connection with an agricultural show but only while the show is open to the public) (Paterson v Ogilvey 1957 SLT 354)

5. A Multi Storey car park (Bowman v DPP [1991] RTR 263)

A car park situated within the business premises of a motor dealer for use by customers has been held to be a public place as members of the public using the car park did not cease to be members of the public and become a special class of persons merely because they used the car park as customers. [May v DPP [2005] EWHC 1280].

As I have said under Section 143 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 it was offence to use, or to cause or permit someone to use, a motor vehicle on a road unless its use is covered by an appropriate policy of insurance or security . "Road" is defined in section 192(1) of the 1988 Act, in relation to England and Wales, as any highway or other road to which the public has access and, in relation to Scotland, as any road or other way to which the public has access.

On the basis of this an appeal Court held that a supermarket car park was a road but this was later rejected by the House of Lords In the case of Cutter v. Eagle Star Insurance Company Ltd, [1998] 4 All ER 417, it was held by the House of Lords that the expression did not include a car park or similar public place.

Likewise in Clarke v Kato and Others [1998]:-

Save exceptionally, a car park is not a road for the purposes of road traffic legislation on obligatory insurance. It is an unjustified strain on the language. A distinction made between the road ways and the parking bays was artificial and unhelpful. Whether any particular area was a road is a question of fact in each case. "In the generality of the matter it seems to me that in the ordinary use of language a car park does not so qualify. In character and more especially in function they are distinct. It is of course possible to park on a road, but that does not mean that the road is a car park. Correspondingly one can drive from one point to another over a car park, but that does not mean that the route which has been taken is a road. It is here that the distinction in function between road and car park is of importance. The proper function of a road is to enable movement along it to a destination. Incidentally a vehicle on it may be stationary. One can use a road for parking

But in both cases they are a 'public place' and highlighted that certain impunity arose when driving off road in a public place amongst members of the public as far as Insurance and certain other offences were concerned.

So, in their wisdom TPTB brought in firstly:

The Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) Regulations 2000 which amended the RT Act and after the term 'road' added 'or other public place'

Other similar enactments have added the term to other offences.

When considering offences under RT Acts one has to make sure it either applies to road only or both. Nevertheless at the end of the day it will be for the Magistrates to decide whether it is a 'road' or 'public place'.

Legal status Supermarket car park? - Petel
Thank you very much DVD. I trust you were able to cut and paste that lot.
Legal status Supermarket car park? - Dwight Van Driver
I know the outline but my typing is rubbish......


Ask Honest John

Value my car

Amount to borrow
Sorry. The minimum loan amount is £1000
To pay back over

My credit score

Best available rate 9.20%

Total repayment £9,304.93

Total cost of credit £1,804.93


60 monthly payments

Apply now

Representative example

The Representative APR is 13.2% (fixed) so if you borrow £7,500 over 4 years at a rate of 13.2% p.a (fixed) you will repay £199.21 per month and repay £9562.20 in total.