The question is:
On a stormy Tuesday afternoon in April 2015, Kati, a rebellious teenager, got into her brand new bright purple convertible and drove up the road to the local Eastfield Shopping Centre. It had been raining relentlessly for the past few days and she desperately needed some new winter jackets and raincoats. The traffic was gridlocked, the roads were wet, and by the time Kati reached the centre an hour later she was not in a good mood.
Seeing the long line of cars waiting to enter the Eastfield carpark, Kati decided she did not feel like hunting for a parking spot and instead drove down towards the centre’s valet parking service. Unlike the main carpark, the valet parking service had no ticket machine or boom gate – instead, a large sign at the entrance informed motorists of the hourly parking rates, along with a prominent notice which stated:
“EASTFIELD SHOPPING CENTRE IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE LOSS OR THEFT OF ANY MOTOR VEHICLE OR ITS CONTENTS WHILST PARKED AT THE VALET PARKING SERVICE. PATRONS AGREE TO ABIDE BY ALL TERMS AND CONDITIONS DISPLAYED OR COMMUNICATED.”
Kati took no notice of the sign and drove past it at speed, coming to a halt in front of the parking attendant, Angus, who was waiting just around the corner from the sign. Without a word, she put the roof of the car down, threw Angus the keys, got out and started up the escalator towards the shops.
“Wait!” cried a voice. Angus had sprinted up the escalator towards Kati, holding a small piece of paper in his hand. “You’ll need this”, he said.
“What on earth is it?” asked Kati, visibly annoyed.
“Just a ticket, hold on to it and give it back to me when you collect your car”, Angus said. Kati snatched the ticket out of Angus’s hand and stuffed it into her handbag without looking at it.
Three hours of shopping later, Kati returned to the valet carpark and handed Angus the ticket. Angus went off to retrieve the car, but returned looking troubled. “I’m sorry, ma’am, but there’s been a slight problem”, he apologised.
To Kati’s dismay, the roof of the Eastfield Shopping Centre had leaked due to the heavy rain and storms outside and a torrent of water had entered her car through its open roof, flooding it right up to the seats. Breaking down, Kati ran out of the carpark in tears.
It was not till the next day that Kati had calmed down enough to go back to the carpark with a mechanic to see if anything could be done about her car. To her surprise, however, Kati’s car was nowhere to be seen. She asked Angus if he knew what had happened, but he only shrugged and pointed to a list of “Further Terms and Conditions” printed in tiny writing on the back of the ticket which he had given her. Amongst the terms was one which stated:
“Cars may not be left overnight at the Valet Parking Service. Eastfield Shopping Centre reserves the right to tow away any car parked overnight and an administration fee of $2,000 is payable to recover any car towed in this manner. Any dispute arising under these terms must be raised within three (3) hours of it occurring or a further administration fee of $10,000 will be payable.”
Kati has refused to pay the fees. Her car has been severely damaged by the water and will cost over $30,000 and take more than six months to repair, owing to the backlog of damaged cars due to the storm, which the NSW Premier has declared as a natural disaster.
Advise Kati. You must support your answer with reference to the relevant law(s). In your answer you are not required to discuss issues relating to negligence (if any).
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