According to Legal Aid New South Wales:
If you have received a “fine” after parking in a private car park, you may be able to challenge the notice. Such car parks are often attached to a shopping centre; they have signs posted about parking; they allow a few hours of free parking, and then charge per hour; they require a ticket to be displayed on the car.
If you do not comply with the above format, you may be issued with a “ticket” and the “fine” is usually $66. If you do not pay within the prescribed 14 days, this increases to $88. Non- payment may result in threats from debt collectors, lawyers and even court action!
In NSW the Road and Marine Authority have no choice but to pass on your name and address to the car parking company. They don’t like it, but that is the law.
Legal Aid state that only the government can issue fines.
The car park company post signs, and they argue that by parking in the car park, you enter into a binding contract. If you do not pay, or display a ticket, you are in breach of that contract.
Legal Aid take the view that, even if there is a binding contract, the terms of the contract are unfair, and the amount demanded is a penalty, rather than a genuine assessment of the parking company’s loss.
If you are being pursued for payment of “liquidated damages” you have a number of options:
1. Do nothing. However we don’t recommend this. They may commence legal proceedings in court, which will end up costing you more.
2. Write to the company and dispute the “fine”. Worth a try!
3. Lodge a complaint with the Consumer Affairs Tribunal. Even if you lose, it won’t cost you any more. Worst -case scenario, you’ll have to fork out the “fine” .
4. Just pay the debt. Bite the bullet!
If you think all this is unfair, spare a thought for the other States. The West Australian, Department of Planning are suggesting; to ease traffic problems, that free parking in shopping, housing, and business centres be phased out. And in the Sunny State, workers at Brisbane Westfield shopping centres are contesting the $3 per day they are forced to pay for the privilege of parking at work.
Their Unions are fighting this penalty in the Industrial Court through Fair Work Australia, and seeking to get reimbursement for the estimated $2.6 million already forked out since the scheme began.