A legal eagle sister has won a landmark court battle for her brother over a controversial parking ticket.
Tasneem Patel’s victory in Preston County Court – branded “beyond belief” by parking bosses – could now pave the way for other motorists to challenge their fines.
Tasneem’s brother Riyaz, 29, was stung with a £50 penalty notice after mistakenly parking at Chiquito Mexican Grill in Preston’s docklands area, yards from the Odeon cinema where he had gone to watch a film.
Riyaz felt the ticket was unfair as he could not see any signs warning motorists there were separate car parking spaces for the restaurant and cinema and he decided to contend it.
After months of wrangling, the IT engineer has finally won a court victory against operators Parking Eye, in a move which could set a precedent for other legal challenges from drivers. However, bosses at Parking Eye say signs are in place and have vowed to appeal.
Riyaz had no idea he had been ticketed until the company from which he had leased his Honda Civic wrote him a letter, asking him to reimburse them as they had paid his fine.
His appeal to Parking Eye failed but, after spotting an article in the Evening Post about a string of other cinema-goers who had also been hit with tickets, Riyaz decided to take it further.
And he knew just the woman for the job.
Riyaz’s sister Tasneem, 23, is a trainee solicitor at Fulwood firm AMS. She took his case against Parking Eye to the county court in Preston and managed to get the ticket overturned.
Riyaz, who lives in Blackburn, said: “I was really shocked when I got a letter through saying I had been fined.
“I thought, ‘Why?’ because I didn’t see any signs which suggested I would be charged for parking there and I’ve been going to that cinema for years.
“It was about the principle for me in the end.
“They promised me I would not get my money back. I made sure I did.
“Other people who don’t have a solicitor just would have paid it really.”
Tasneem, who trained in law at Lancaster University and has been with AMS since August 2008, said she had argued the parking notice, issued in August last year, was unlawful.
She said: “My brother came to me and said there were no signs up in the car park.
“I made a visit and there was nothing there to explain CCTV was logging vehicles going in and out.
“(The fine) was a small amount of money but it was the principle.”
Fulwood motorist Debbie Loveday launched a one-woman campaign last year to warn others about the parking restrictions near Chiquito after being hit with a penalty notice she believed was unfair.
The mum-of-two today welcomed the news of Riyaz’s court victory.
She said: “I’m glad someone has taken them to court and they have seen sense and withdrawn the ticket.
“It opens the door for anyone else to do the same.”
A spokesman for Parking Eye said: “We have submitted evidence that there is one sign for every eight spaces in the car park, including a sign at the entrance and exit, so we genuinely can’t understand this ruling.
“Quite how the judge can accept the argument of the motorist apparently not seeing the signage - despite the same argument being dismissed as a valid excuse by Judge Ackroyd in Oldham Court in 2008 - is beyond belief and we will of course be appealing the decision.
“We are confident common sense will prevail.”
Parking Eye has received support from The British Parking Association’s Approved Operator Scheme, of which it is a member.
Kelvin Reynolds, director of operations, said: “It is widely accepted that breach of contract is the essence of the arrangement for the management of parking on private land and that a landowner can manage their land and seek compensation for breach of contract.
“The outcome of this case seems to be implying that it is perfectly acceptable for somebody to ignore signage and park in a private car park that has been provided by the owner for the specific use of their customers.”