If you park your car in an area controlled by a private company in violation of its terms, you may receive a parking fine issued under civil law. The fine can only be collected if the parking terms and sanctions are clearly exposed on information boards in the area. If you think the fine is unjustified, file a complaint.
You have the right not to pay the fine until the complaint has been processed. A debt collection agency used by the company may also not collect the fine until the complaint has been processed.
The fine is based on a contract
A parking fine issued for civil law is based on a contract. It is different from a parking ticket issued by an authority (a municipal parking warden or the police).
Although there are no specific legislation on private parking control, you have a contractual liability to pay the fine if you have parked your car against the terms.
The contract is initiated when you park your car if you have received adequate information about the contract and its terms before parking. A fine can only be collected if there are enough information sings in the area that expose
- the conditions for parking in the area
- the sanction for violating the parking conditions
- the fact that if you park your car here, you’ll be covenanted for the conditions.
You may ask that your fine is cancelled if
The party demanding payment has to prove that your car was parked against the terms. If the terms require you to display a parking disc, a fine issued for not using a disc is usually justified. This also applies to situations where the terms state that your parking permit or ticket must be in a visible place in the car.
For example if the parking rules of the area and the sanctions for violating them were not clearly visible in the area. You cannot appeal the fact that you did not read the conditions for parking in the area.
It is always the driver of the car who concludes the contract on parking, not the car itself. You need not pay just because you are the owner of the car. Basically the company asking for payment must be able to show who the contracting party (driver of the car) was. If you dispute your obligation to pay on this basis and the parking company takes the matter to the court, you should also be prepared to provide evidence showing that you did not park the car yourself.
If you have only made a minor error, for example paid the fee using a parking application and entered the wrong area number or made a typo when entering the registration number by mistake, inflicting a fine may be unreasonable. If, despite the mistake, you fulfilled your main obligation by paying for the parking to the right parking service provider and the payment can later be related to the car you parked, you can ask that the fine is cancelled. If the parking fee has gone to the wrong actor or the fee cannot be related to your car later (due to you entering the registration number of another car, for example), you should not dispute the fine.
If you think that the fine you’ve received is unfounded, file a complaint for the company who demands it. You have the right not to pay the fine until the complaint has been processed. If your complaint is refused, you have the right to receive clear argument for refusal.
A debt collection agency used by the company may also not collect the fine until the complaint has been processed. If the company engages debt collection procedures before it has been estimated that the fine is justifiable, complain both to the company and the debt collection agency used by them.
If you cannot solve the problem with the company, you can contact the Consumer Advisory Services and, if necessary, also take the issue to the Consumer Disputes Board.
You should notice that the Consumer Advisory Services and the Consumer Disputes Board can only handle a dispute related to a private parking fine if:
- parking was subject to a charge, or
- it was related to purchasing consumer goods
- for example, you have used the services of a shopping centre and parked your car in its customer parking area
The Consumer Advisory Services cannot help you with a dispute related to a fine and you cannot take the issue to the Consumer Disputes Board if, for example, you parked your car
- in the yard area of private housing company (even if you have a resident’s parking permit)
- in the parking area of a municipality’s health centre, library or other public utility
- parking was related to employment
Additionally, the consumer authorities do not handle the disputes related to parking tickets assessed by a municipal parking warden or the police.