CAR PARK MANAGEMENT
The remedies available to an individual or business seeking to protect their parking area are derived from the law of trespass. The law states that a person trespasses upon private land if they enter onto land without the permission / authority of the owner or legal occupier.
Anyone who enters onto and parks or drives over privately owned land, without the authority of the land owner or legal occupier, will be trespassing on that land for the duration that they are there.
The law of trespass is such that it also gives rise to a claim if an individual even with a right to enter on to and travel over private land, such as a right of way, parks on that land without the authority of the land owner or legal occupier. A claim can also be made whether there is a breach of the parking regulations clearly displayed on warning notices.
REMEDIES FOR LAND OWNERS / LEGAL OCCUPIERS
The remedies available to a land owner or legal occupier are as follows:
If a trespasser peaceably (i.e. without force) enters or is found on the land, the land owner may request him to leave. If he refuses to leave the land owner may remove him from the land using no more force than is reasonably necessary. A land owner is also entitled to take reasonable steps to prevent trespassers from entering his property.
In a claim for trespass, if the claimant can prove the trespass he is entitled to recover nominal damages, even if he has not suffered any actual loss. If the trespass has caused the claimant actual damage, he is entitled to receive an amount which will compensate him for his loss. Where the trespasser has made use of the claimant’s land, the claimant is entitled to receive a reasonable level of compensation in the form of damages for that use.
The Court has the discretionary power to grant an injunction in order to prevent a continuance or a threatened persistence of trespass.
Injunctions may be of limited effect in respect of unauthorized car parking as they are only of use “after the event” and are only granted at the Court’s discretion. However, damages awards are more useful in these circumstances.
A balanced approach
In practical terms, the monitoring of the parking area coupled with the application of penalty charge notices usually acts as a suitable deterrent. However a land owner should be aware that if a penalty charge fee is levied and paid to the land owner by someone who has parked without authorization, then the land owner is effectively waiving any claim that they may have for damages.
The above also applies to the leaseholder, or legal occupier or tenant.