One of the most commonly misunderstood areas of the law is that which pertains to parking. Two recent news stories have drawn attention to parking and the law, both raising important misconceptions about the law in the public eye. Are parking fines enforceable? Can you challenge a parking fine? Who can use parent and child spaces? The law of private parking is mainly dictated by contract law, meaning that the rules change from venue to venue. This makes the law something of a grey area in the minds of the public. This post looks at a recent case drawing attention to contract law, parking and the grey area.
Can Pregnant Women Park
in a Parent and Child Space?
The question arising from the Asda incident is two-fold: whether pregnant women qualify as being a ‘parent with child’, under the contract of the private car park or whether it is implied in the contract that pregnant women may use the space designed to facilitate family use of the store. In terms of the first question, it could be argued that a heavily pregnant woman is technically a parent with a child, just not in the way the average person assumes the term ‘parent and child’ is to be interpreted. However, there is a much stronger case for the argument that it is implied by the contract, that pregnant women should be able to use such car parking spaces. They require the extra room surrounding the space for the same reasons as a parent with a child does and arguably are using the space in the way it was intended. It is most likely that shops and other locations with parent and child spaces have simply not thought about specifying this use for the space and as such the interpretation may be one which falls under the ‘offacious bystander test’. The test developed in Shirlaw v Southern Foundries  2 KB 206, dictates that a term may be implied if, in the hypothetical situation a bystander had suggested the term be included, at the time the contract was negotiated, it would have been obvious to both parties that the term should have been included.
Whilst this incident never went to court for discussion, it drew great attention from the media, with the public outrage further highlighting that it should have been obvious that the right of heavily pregnant women to use a parent and child parking space is an implied term of the parking contract.