Carly Mackie ignored hundreds of parking tickets for leaving her car at Dundee’s Waterfront without a permit, claiming they were unenforceable.
Ms Mackie said that she had a right to park in the area as she was living there at the time.
Sheriff George Way said the charges were from a “valid contract” and she was liable for them.
Vehicle Control Services (VCS) took the 28-year-old to court last year after she failed to pay £18,500 in private parking notices.
She had been living at a flat with her stepfather, who was a tenant and had a garage at the property.
Sheriff Way said Ms Mackie had parked outside the garage and would not accept the offer of a parking permit for a space nearby for £40 per month.
‘Entirely misdirected’In a written judgement, Sheriff Way said: “She admits she parked without a permit, on the property that the pursuers were contracted to protect.
“She had no better right or title to do so than any other interloper or stranger no matter what her belief might be.”
What does the law say?Parking tickets issued by private companies in private car parks are not fines, they can be classed as parking charge notices.
This is different from Penalty Charge Notices which are issued by council traffic wardens and the police. These are regulated fines, backed by legislation.
Private landowners and car parking firms do not have the power to issue Penalty Charge Notices
However, by parking in a restricted private area, a motorist can be considered to be agreeing to a contract with the landowner or car park operator, provided there is adequate signage warning of the charge.
Failing to pay can be seen as a breach of contract and the car parking firm can take the motorist to court to recover their losses.
The sheriff said Ms Mackie had “entirely misdirected herself” on both the law and “the contractual chain” in the case.
He said: “The defender is bound by that contract and incurred the parking charge on each occasion.
“The defender refused to pay the parking charges not because she was unaware of the parking scheme or the terms of the notices or the financial consequences of parking at any time, but because she did not believe that the charges were valid in law.
“The parking charges flow from a valid contract between the pursuers and the defender and she is liable for them.”
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