Bully Car Park Operators in the Spotlight (again)

February 8th, 2010

Once again, the controversial (and probably illegal) practice of “fining” people for alleged breaches of parking conditions is making News Headlines.

Channel 9’s A Current Affair program has run a series of reports over the last few weeks about the methods Australian National Car Parks (ANCP) seem to be using to intimidate people into paying “fines” for failing to get a ticket at public Car Parks they manage.

It was alleged that ANCP take advantage of the fact that people are often unaware that they need to get a ticket – even though the car parks are clearly signed as “2 Hours Free Parking”.  It seems that if you fail to get a ticket (even if you stay for less than 2 hrs) ANCP staff have been issuing ‘liquidated damages’  demands for $66 – which quickly escalate to $88 and then $163 if you don’t pay in time – in some cases followed by a NOTICE OF INTENTION TO SUE.

However, as a private company, ANCP does not have legal authority to administer fines.

What the law says:

A DRIVER using a private car park enters into a contract with the operator to abide by the terms and conditions stated on signs (which must be prominently displayed).

Under contract law, parties are not entitled to impose penalties for breach of contract but can seek “liquidated damages” – which are defined as a reasonable estimate of the damage suffered as a result of the contract being breached. If a court finds the estimate is not reasonable it is defined as a penalty and becomes invalid.

If damages are sought by a private car-park operators but resisted by the driver the issue may end up in court, however, the company then has to demonstrate how the damage it suffered equals the damages it is seeking.

There is considerable doubt whether ANCP could justify the $66 damages they have been demanding.

But It’s all happened before :

This is certainly not the first time this type of practice has been reported.

In April 2007, The Age (Crackdown on car parking ‘bullies ) reported similar practices by Australian National Car Parks and highlighted that a number of Victorian Councils had banned (or were considering bans) on ANCP operating within their regions.

Moreland Council, which includes Brunswick, Coburg and Pascoe Vale, accused Australian National Car Parks of bullying behaviour, and Darebin Council, which includes Northcote and Preston, had asked the company to stop handing out tickets.

At the time ANCP was being investigated by the NSW Office of Fair Trading and had also been reported to Consumer Affairs Victoria.

In 2006, then NSW fair trading minister Diane Beamer urged drivers to “exercise extreme caution” in ANCP car parks because the company could have been engaging in “improper, misleading and deceptive conduct”.

In October 2008, the Herald Sun (Supermarket shoppers not legally obliged to pay parking fines ) reported that tens of thousands of Victorians had paid up for shopping centre parking fines that they were not legally obliged to pay.

On 10th October, Consumer Affairs Victoria issued a state-wide alert warning motorists that Care Park Pty Ltd had no power to issue fines or impose penalties at “free” supermarket car parks.  Also at that time Australian National Car Parks was at the centre of a case designed to test the legality of its demands, and a third company that issued demand notices – Parking Infringements Victoria – was under investigation by Consumer Affairs.

A Facebook group called The People vs Australian National Car Parks –  has been established with the aim of helping with information and advice.  There are also plenty of active forums discussing the issues, but consensus seems to be that if you do get issued with one of these demand notices – don’t panic and don’t lose sleep over it – simply throw the notice away.

  1. daniel baxter
    June 4th, 2010 at 11:16 | #1

    hi im another one but by Care Park Pty Ltd i parked in a car park in StAlbans Vic seen a ticket machine but it was not working so i couldnot get a ticket, i went about my buisness and on return to my car i found a ticket on the windscreen i notice the person whom put it there and said i couldnt get a ticket from the machine as it was out of order he gave the impression he couldnt care less i also noticed that a note had been placed on said machine since i parked their i have had my second letter from their lawyers get this(Parke Lawyers) dont that tell you something i called Parke and spoke to a man explaning that the machine was broke and i told him about but he seemed just as arrogant as the guy in the car park and said i should send a statutory decliration what ever that is this last letter states that the unpaid ticket from the 05/03/2010 for veh UQT700 has not been payed and that futher action will be taken ie issue of warrent to 1seize property;2attachment of earnings order;3;attachment of debt and 4summons for oral examination; whatever that is could you please tell me should i pay for something that was not my fault it has gone from $88.00 to $143.00 i have 7 days to pay from the 03/06/2010 i assume the date the letter was written please reply i have wrote to you before but recived no reply thank you yours sinc Daniel Baxter my email is dannybaxterskip@yahoo.com.au contact mob ph0433201331

  2. June 6th, 2010 at 14:39 | #2

    This site http://sites.google.com/site/unfairfines provides some information on what you can do if you get a fine from a private car park See also the forums link on this site where you can discuss this with other people who have been thru it also.

  3. June 23rd, 2010 at 12:19 | #3

    There is also a page on Parking Patrols (Vic) Pty Ltd (also known as Parking Infringements Victoria) on the webite http://sites.google.com/site/unfairfines

  4. yasmin
    August 4th, 2010 at 20:40 | #4


    Please could I get some advice.I was issued a parking ticket by CARE PARK PTY LTD I had just left my car and went to get some change, i was gone less than 5 mins and i was issued a parking ticket.

    Please can anyone offer advice on how I stand on this matter.

    Thank you

  5. September 14th, 2010 at 14:03 | #5

    Hi, if you left to get some change, then came back and bought a ticket 5 mintues later, you don’t have to pay the fine. Care Park might try and tell you otherwise, but you don’t have to pay the fine. The reason is that if you have bought a ticket (even if 5 mintues late), then under contract law Care Park have suffered no damages, so can’t take you to court. Or if they did take you to court, the would lose provided you had the receipt showing you had bought a ticket on the same day.

  6. December 17th, 2010 at 02:41 | #6

    Thank you for your fantastic blog. Where else could I get this kind of information written in such an incite full way? I have a site for parking enforcement services and I have been looking for information for this site…

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