A chip shop owner has lost a Supreme Court battle over a £85 parking fine, in what campaigners said would encourage "cowboy parking firms" to impose more, large fines.
Barry Beavis, of Chelmsford, Essex, took his case to the highest court in the land to say he should not have to pay the fine for overstaying the two-hour limit in a car park.
But the court today sided with the private company that fined him, saying the fine was a deterrent for overstaying.
Speaking before the ruling, Mr Beavis said: "I am confident that the Supreme Court will overturn the decision of the Court of Appeal as this parking charge is totally unfair and should be thrown out."
Campaigners had hoped a victory would allow more people to challenge fines issued to motorists while parked on private land.
Richard Lloyd, executive director of consumer group Which?, said: "This is a thoroughly disappointing judgment based on a narrow interpretation of the law.
"It will cause chaos if cowboy parking firms choose to take advantage of the ruling by hitting drivers with even more excessive charges. Our advice to consumers is to be on your guard and always appeal if you think a parking fine is unfair."