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Legal guide to UK motoring, sections for law enforcement, Driver licensing, learner and new drivers, buying and selling, speeding fines, owning a vehicle, wheel clamping, traffic information.


Parking on private land

If you park on private land, such as a supermarket car park or a privately owned multi-story car park, you will have entered into a contract with the landowner. If there are signs displayed in the car park setting out rules for using the car park, then these are the terms of the contract. If any of these rules are broken, then the car park owner can take steps to enforce them. There is often a parking operating company managing the car park for the owner or landlord.

NHS boards are responsible for the management of NHS car parking facilities. There may be a private car park operator managing the car parking facilities on behalf of the NHS board.

If you park on private land without permission from the owner, or breach any conditions imposed by the owner, then the owner or someone authorised by them, may give you a parking ticket. This might look like an official fixed penalty but it isn't one. It's a notice that the owner of the car park or the private car park operator intends to take you to a civil court, and will offer to let you pay the fine to settle the case out of court. This is a civil matter, not a criminal one.

Landowners and car park operators do not need licences to issue parking tickets. It is an unregulated business although many car park operators are members of the British Parking Association.

Voluntary Code of Practice for Private Car Parking Enforcement
1.1. This Voluntary Code of Practice was produced by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in consultation with organisations that request vehicle keeper information from DVLA to enforce parking contraventions on private property.

1.2. The Code sets out guidelines on the use of information provided by the Agency under Regulations for the purpose of enforcing parking restrictions on private property.

1.3. The purpose of the Code is to set out standard procedures for administering the release of vehicle keeper information to enforce parking contraventions. It is intended to address concerns that have been expressed about the release of information for this purpose and to increase public confidence in the arrangements.

2.1. Regulation 27 of the Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) Regulations 2002, as amended, provides that the Secretary of State may make particulars contained in the vehicle register available for use, on payment of a fee, by any person who can show to the satisfaction of the Secretary of State that he has reasonable cause for wanting the particulars to be made available to him.

2.2. By signing up to the Code, an organisation will be agreeing to the following undertakings.

Enquirer's Responsibilities
3.1. Adequate signs should be displayed on all private property and car parks where enforcement action is to be taken. These should satisfy the criteria that it is 'reasonable' for a motorist to be aware of the potential consequences of his/her actions when parking the vehicle. It should be clear that parking is not allowed or restricted and that enforcement action will be taken in respect of any subsequent contravention.

3.2. Notices giving full details of the parking contravention and the proposed course of action to be taken by the enforcer should be placed in a prominent position on the 'offending' vehicle without causing it damage. Vehicle keepers should be made aware that their name and address will be requested from DVLA.

3.3. Company titles, documentation and notices issued in respect of parking violations should not create the impression that action is being taken on behalf of a public body. Company names must comply with the Business Names Act 1985. Windscreen notices should be cleared, in advance, with DVLA.

3.4. Vehicle keepers must be contacted by letter and should not be approached in their homes in respect of the enforcement of claims (other than for the service of notices and court papers) until a Court judgement has been secured.

3.5. Enquiries must include details of the incident giving rise to the claim - date, time and full vehicle details, to include registration mark, make/model and colour. Any other relevant evidence - including photographic details should also be included if available.

Terms of Supply
4.1. Information will be disclosed on condition that it relates to, and will be used only in connection with, an enquiry relating to the identification of a vehicle keeper for a parking contravention/trespass on private property.


4.2. The principles of the Data Protection Act 1998 must always be adhered to when such information is disclosed.

4.3. Nothing in this Code shall be construed as being in any way binding by way of a contract or otherwise, to supply all or any data to the enquirer. Nonetheless, DVLA will not normally withhold data unless the enquirer fails to comply with the terms of the Data Protection Act.

4.4. The information provided is the property of DVLA and must not be duplicated or held for longer than is necessary.

Duration of the Code of Practice
5.1. This Code shall commence upon signature hereto and will continue in force and have effect until such time as the Agency shall deem appropriate.

Use of Data
6.1. The enquirer must not disclose any Data to a third party other than in respect of the institution of legal proceedings. However, if the enquirer intends to use a third party to process data on their behalf, these Terms will apply to the third party and the Data may only be used for the aforementioned purpose. The enquirer will be held liable for any breach of these Terms by the third party. DVLA will not be held responsible for any problem arising between the enquirer and any such third party.

6.2. Copyright of the Data is vested solely in the Crown.

Security of the Data
7.1. The Agency shall be permitted access to the enquirer's operations area to check the methods of processing. The enquirer must agree to make available to the Agency's authorised personnel such files and records as may be required for them to be satisfied that the Data is being used in the manner agreed and to ensure security of storage and access so as to comply with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998.

7.2. The Agency may carry out audits of the enquirer's internal control systems - so far as they relate to DVLA enquiries - to ensure that they comply with best practice.

7.3. DVLA is registered under the Data Protection Act. Any misuse of the Data or abuse of these conditions by an enquirer or his agent will result in withdrawal of the supply of information under the agreed terms.

7.4. It is an offence to unlawfully obtain personal data, contrary to Section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998. Unlimited fines in the Crown Court (or a maximum of 5,000 in the Magistrates Court) exist as penalties in respect of these offences. All instances of suspected abuse that come to DVLA's attention will be referred to the Information Commissioner for further investigation.

The BBC have used the Freedom of Information Act, and discovered that the DVLA sold nearly 1.1 million names and addresses to private parking companies last year. That brought in an estimated 3.4 million pounds. The DVLA says it has strict procedures to prevent your data being misused. It will only sell details to companies that are approved by the British Parking Association, or BPA. And for those companies to be on the BPA's approved list, they must keep to its Code of Practice.

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