National Car Parks – Court of Appeal of England and Wales finds that car park machines that did not refund coin payments thereby received extra consideration for VAT purposes

A customer pays for parking in a car park by going to the ticket machine which, on its tariff board, displays a price for one hour of £1.40 – but also states that change is not given. She deposits £1.50 in coins into the machine, which flashes up 'press green button for ticket', which she does. The amount paid is printed on her ticket, as is the expiry time of one hour later. The customer displays the ticket in her car and leaves the car park.

In finding that the consideration received by the car park owner (NCP) for VAT purposes was £1.50, and rejecting NCP’s submission that £0.10 was a gratuitous payment, Newey LJ stated:

The best analysis would seem to be that the contract was brought into being when the green button was pressed. On that basis, the pressing of the green button would represent acceptance by the customer of an offer by NCP to provide an hour's parking in return for the coins that the customer had by then paid into the machine. At all events, there is no question of the customer having any right to repayment of 10p. The contract price was £1.50.

Neal Armstrong. Summary of National Car Parks Ltd v Revenue and Customs [2019] EWCA Civ 854 under ETA s. 123(1) – consideration.