Email received by the editor of Scots Law News on 17 March 2007:

Dear Professor MacQueen,I thought you might be interested in a scenario involving an analysis provided by Professor Thomson and yourself in your book Contract Law in Scotland (2000).At page 42 – paragraph 2.15 – the formation of contract through the use of automatic vending machines is considered.I have recently cited your views in dispute with Edinburgh Council over a penalty parking charge.I noticed that the ‘timer’ starts running on Edinburgh’s ‘ticket voucher issuing machines’ not from the moment that the consumer presses the green ‘accept’ button but, rather, from the moment the first coin is inserted into the machine.Using your analyses of the situation with vending machines I argued that – on either analysis – the Council could not charge prior to my acceptance which I suggested occurs at the moment the green accept button is pressed. (There is, for example, the option of refund up to that point).The Council have accepted my appeal and, in light of my argument – based on paragraph 2.15 – are looking into the operation of their ticket vending machines.Yours,John E Gynn