A woman has been given Britain's largest parking penalty of £24,500 ($43,673) by a judge who warned against the myth that private parking charges are unenforceable.

Carly Mackie, 28, parked outside her mother's home and ignored the almost-daily fine notices on her windscreen.

She wrongly believed she was entitled to park her Mini in front of her family's garage near their Dundee home and the tickets were unenforceable.

But private firm Vehicle Control Services took her to court last year when she racked up an £18,500 bill for ignoring more than 200 penalties.


The firm said Mackie has not challenged a single fine and was not entitled to leave her car there without a permit.

In a written judgment Sheriff George Way said Mackie had "entirely misdirected herself on both the law and the contractual chain in this case" and ordered her to pay £24,500.

In the ruling handed down at Dundee Sheriff Court, he said: "She knew perfectly well what the signs displayed and that she was parking in breach of the conditions.

"She stated that parking charges were illegal and unenforceable in Scotland and that she could park where she liked as her father's guest.

"The defender is not the tenant. The defender's car was an additional burden on the parking facilities and she was the same as any other interloper.

"She was offered a permit by the factors, at a reasonable charge I think, but she refused on principle."

He added: "Parking is not only an amenity but a valuable commodity in modern life."

Mackie had been parking in an area reserved for residents when she visited the property rented by her mother and stepfather, since at least 2015.

Sheriff Way said she had parked outside the garage and would not accept the offer of a parking permit for a space nearby for £40 a month.

Parking tickets from private companies are not fines but by parking in a restricted area a motorist can be considered to be agreeing to a contract.

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.

Debt Recovery Plus Ltd, which acted on behalf of the parking company, said: "This is understood to be the highest-value parking charge case ever awarded in the United Kingdom.

"As some people in Scotland believe that parking charges are unenforceable (despite the landmark 2015 Supreme Court judgment ruling in favour of a parking operator) a record number of court cases are now being pursued in Scotland.

"We are happy to work with any Scottish motorist experiencing financial difficulties who would like to make a payment arrangement to settle historic charges before court action is taken. "

Mackie has not responded to a request for comment, but speaking in 2015 she said: "We have a right to park in front of our own property. I've considered moving out. It just makes my life so hellish.

"I always make a point of parking in front of my own garage, where nobody else could park, and never parking on the double yellow lines on the road."

This story was originally published by The Daily Telegraph