Some readers have mentioned their frustration in getting a “fine” or notice of breach of contract after parking their vehicles at various parking venues in Melbourne. These parking areas are run by private operators, for example, ACE car parking services which manage parking areas. In the example was given, i.e., ACE car parking, the breach of contract notices which are an electronic ticket that looks like a regular council issued fine from a handheld device were issued by what appears to be one of ACE car parking’s divisions – CPCS or Car Park Compliance Services Pty Ltd.
ACE car parking services manage car parking at venues such as Tullamarine airport and other places around Melbourne including spots next to hospitals such as at Sunshine Hospital. There have not been complaints about the airport car parking incidents where fines are issued and would be interested to hear to update this posts if any readers have been issued fines for breach of contract for Melbourne airport car parks.
Example: Readers have been issued what appears to be council issued tickets for an infringement known as a breach of contract (more on this later) for being as little as 10 minutes late after a morning appointment at the Sunshine Hospital adjacent.
It seems that the “parking inspectors” are extremely diligent in their jobs, however, given this case example being next to hospital you can understand people being just a little over in time whether it be the person’s medical condition or the walk back from the hospital to the car parking area. Patients can suffer delays in the appointment itself at the Sunshine Hospital.
I know these later examples are unrelated to the car parking company itself and are the individuals responsibility, but you can also gather that there is a lot of frustration out there from the clientele that is parking mainly to attend the hospital. One would think that the car parking management company would provide some allowance and not be so quick (in under 10 minutes) to issue an infringement notice. These notices are for breach of contract in the order of $66 (rising to $88) for what is a $2-3 hour car park (of which under 10 minutes of time was over parked 30c – 50c loss if a time/cost basis was taken into account.
Other people identified hotspots such as parking at the jam factory multilevel car park just off Chapel Street in Prahran, Melbourne and fines issued by a company called Care Park Pty Ltd (you can read more in the whirlpool discussion link at the end of this post).
Searching Google revealed that the Victorian courts have been clogged by private car parking companies that have once called their infringements fines and now calling them a breach of contract in 2015. As a result of many cases going for courts followed up by debt collectors and harassing people who have had tickets placed on the windows, the Victorian government has increased the privacy of VicRoads licencing information. The changes have made it not possible for the car parking companies to find out who the vehicle owners are and the address from vehicle ownership record searches in Victoria.
Here are some leads (were publicly available on Google ) if you receive one of these breaches of contract notices on your window when parking at a venue like Melbourne airport or Sunshine Hospital or any other ACE car parking facility in and around Melbourne/Victoria.
NOTE: We are not solicitors OR legal specialists in this area of law, this article is not about giving legal advice and have just made a referral to websites that have far more technical and professional experience in this matter. This article is general in nature and follows complaints made by this site and monitoring of online media about the practice of private car parks in Melbourne issuing a breach of contract notices or fines.
The first place to look at is called consumer action law centre website. The article was written in July 2014, and there have been some updates since then in 2015 Victorian government about this practice. The key points then were that car parks cannot ‘fine’ consumers in this perhaps prompted changes in the legislation effective 26 August 2015 which name and address of the vehicle owners from the Vic roads database. Without the name and address details issue a demand for payment.
Some other companies such as ACE manage car parking spaces were issuing fines of $66 rising to $88 if unpaid by a period of 14 days. This website reported that consumers ignoring the payment were then followed up by the company’s solicitors with a further action such as court action threatened and the sum rising to the region of around $300. At that time of writing in 2014, the website noted that there was no statutory authority to issue fines.
What course of action can you take this?
Consumer response suggested the options are.. do nothing. From 26 August 2015, there will be restrictions on the amount of data available to the car parking companies. Car parking operators will not be able to obtain your ownership details from VicRoads like they did in the past unless they apply to the magistrates court.
Consumer action also suggested that you can write to the company and if you were not the driver when the fine was alleged to include you can disclose a driver and identify the driver at the time.
If you want to get on the front foot, you can issue proceedings in VCAT.
REMEMBER, if the ‘fine’ was incurred after 26 August 2015, the company will be unable to get your contact details from the VicRoads registration database. It cannot demand payment or sue you unless it has these details. That was the consensus at the time of writing, but we suggest you make your enquiries online to see if things have changed and seek professional legal advice.
A well-known solicitor in Melbourne was quoted as saying the damages being sought far exceeds the parking fee being lost for parking over time which is around two or three dollars per hour to park the vehicle say at an open area car park, but the sum demanded for damages is $66 – $88 and, therefore, was an exorbitant in relation to the actual damages incurred by the operator for I guess loss of earnings, for allegedly the driver of the vehicle breaching the contract.
Images above – front of a ticket received at an ACE run car parking lot in Melbourne, Back of ticket – from car park compliance services Pty Ltd Melbourne VIC.
Update on the ‘ticket’ pictured – I contacted the reader that raised the issue regarding a ticket from an ACE car-park, and this was four months ago now. The notice was never paid, and the person concerned has not heard a thing from ACE car parking.