Coronavirus update

Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA) is putting all appeals received after 6 April on hold until things return to normal.

If you’ve received a ticket that you want to appeal, you still need to register it with them on their website.

You'll then be given extra time to submit the full appeal later.

1 What kind of parking ticket is it?

Official bodies, like councils and the police, or private companies can issue parking tickets. It's important to know which yours is.

If your ticket is official it will be called a Penalty Charge Notice, Excess Charge Notice or Fixed Penalty Notice, and it will include the name of the issuing authority.

If any of this isn’t on your ticket it’s more than likely been issued by a private company.

For example, if you get a ticket while at a retail park, hospital or housing estate - it’s likely to be from a private company. This type of parking ticket is often labelled as a Parking Charge Notice.

A parking charge notice or other privately issued ticket isn’t a fine and can’t be imposed on you - but a private company can pursue you through the courts for payment.

Penalty Charge Notice or Parking Charge Notice?

Most parking tickets will be one of:

  • Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) or an Excess Charge Notice (ECN) – usually issued by the council on public land, such as a high street or council car park
  • Parking Charge Notice – issued by a landowner or parking company on private land, such as a supermarket car park
  • Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) – issued by the police on red routes, white zig zags or where the police manage parking

2 Is there an early payment discount?

Council tickets If you agree to pay the fine, you’re entitled to a 50% discount on the full cost as long as you pay it within the first 14 days. For postal parking tickets a 21-day early payment discount applies.

But, if you pay the parking ticket, the council will close the case and you’ll be unable to appeal.

If you want to appeal, it’s important to do so quickly. As long as you start your appeal within 14 days of receiving your ticket, the discount will be frozen and should still apply.

Private tickets If you do decide to pay the ticket within 14 days, the parking company must offer you a discount of at least 40%.

Challenging the ticket doesn’t extend the 14 day limit for a discount - unless the operator agrees to extend it, which they’re not required to do. 

If you decide to appeal it’s important that you have clear grounds to do so.

3 How to appeal a council issued parking ticket

Five reasons you might want to appeal a council issued parking ticket

  • The contravention didn’t occur. For example, there were unclear or misleading signs, non-visible markings, or the ticket wasn't issued.
  • The council says the ticket was served by post because the traffic warden was prevented from giving the ticket but you didn't receive it.
  • The vehicle was stolen or you weren't the owner when the alleged contravention occurred.
  • The Traffic Regulation Order was invalid. For example, the council added a new restriction, such as a yellow line, without following procedures.
  • Mitigating circumstances, for example, health issues or vehicle breakdown.

You can follow the process outlined below whether you receive a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN), Excess Charge Notice (ECN) or Standard Charge Notice (SCN).

First, create your parking ticket appeal letter

Appeal your parking ticket

If you’ve been issued with a parking ticket you think is unfair, you have the right to challenge it. Create your appeal letter.

Start your appeal

To give your appeal the best chance of succeeding it’s important to include all the supporting evidence you can.

If the ticket has come through the post a few days later, it will be a tougher task to gather evidence, but try to provide any that you can, including:

  • Photographs of any particular road signs or markings that are unclear
  • Photographs of the ticket meter, if it was broken
  • Witness statements
  • Any evidence of mitigating circumstances
  • The crime reference number, if your car was stolen

You can also download a copy of our template letter to start your formal appeal against a parking ticket.

Second, follow the council’s process

Make sure you follow the council’s parking fine appeals process.

Many councils allow you to appeal online so check the council website for details.

If the process involves you writing to the council, make sure you include your address, vehicle registration number and the ticket number.

Tickets sent by post should include a formal appeal form with information on how to proceed.

Third, appeal the council’s decision to an independent tribunal

If the council accepts your reasons for appealing, your fine will be cancelled and you’ll have nothing to pay.

But if the council rejects your appeal, you’ll be sent a notice of rejection. At this point, the remaining days you have left qualifying you for a discount will be unfrozen.

For example, if you appealed seven days after you received a ticket on your windshield, you would have seven days in which to pay at the discounted rate.

If you have been issued with an ECN or SCN you should be informed of your appeal choices by the council or issuing authority in question.

If you still think there’s a strong case for not paying the charge, you can appeal to an independent body.

Consider carefully how strong you think your case is though because at this point you’ll lose the chance to pay a reduced charge.

An independent adjudicator will decide on your case. They can only instruct the council to cancel your ticket on certain specified grounds.

Who you appeal to will depend on where the parking ticket was issued. It will be one of the following:

If the parking appeal is made in person or on the phone, the adjudicator will normally tell you the decision there and then.

If you appeal online or in written form you’ll be notified either by email or letter.

There are four possible outcomes:

  1. You win
  2. You lose
  3. The appeal is adjourned to another date
  4. The appeal is dismissed by the adjudicator considers there are compelling reasons why the penalty should not be paid

4 How to appeal a private issued parking ticket

10 reasons to appeal a private parking ticket

  • The contravention didn’t occur. For example, there were unclear or misleading signs, non-visible markings, or the ticket wasn't issued.
  • The parking firm is not a member of an accredited trade association (see below for more information).
  • The charge isn’t proportionate to the normal advertised costs of parking or the losses caused to the company or landowner - in practice this will probably only apply for charges in excess of £100.
  • You didn’t own the car when the parking ticket was issued. For example, it had been sold or stolen before the ticket was issued.
  • The payment machines were out of order and there was no other way of paying.
  • The parking company wasn’t responsible for looking after the land you parked on - this has been known to happen.
  • The parking ticket is invalid. For example key details such as the registration number are recorded incorrectly.
  • Mitigating circumstances. For example, health issues or vehicle breakdown.
  • You made a keying error but can prove that you paid with a bank statement (members of the British Parking Association can only fine you as much as £20 for processing fees).
  • You were unfairly charged for overstaying when you entered and left the car park within the agreed grace periods.

The car park operator can pursue you for a parking charge for contravening any rules it has displayed on signs in its car park.

But the charge should be proportionate to the normal advertised costs of parking or to the losses caused to the company by you overstaying in the parking space.

If the amount charged is more than the landowner’s loss, this could mean the penalty charge is unenforceable.

Signs and notices must also be clear and obviously displayed.

If you’re issued with a parking ticket in a private car park and you weren’t made aware of a particular restriction, you can appeal.

If you think the charge is unfair or have a mitigating reason for refusing to pay it - such as ill health or vehicle breakdown - you can contact the operator or landowner to explain why you’re refusing to pay.

First, create your parking ticket appeal letter

You must first appeal to the car park operator and follow the operator’s internal appeals process.

You can also download a copy of our template letter to start your formal appeal against a parking ticket.

Try to gather as much evidence for why you’re refusing to pay as possible and include it with your letter, including:

  • Photographs of any particular road signs or markings that are unclear
  • Photographs of the ticket meter, if it was broken
  • Witness statements
  • Any evidence of mitigating circumstances
  • The crime reference number, if your car was stolen

Should the case go to court, you will only be ordered to pay the landowner’s actual losses.

Ask a business to appeal for you

For example, sometimes if you received a ticket while shopping in a supermarket and using its car park, you can ask it to appeal on your behalf.

Make sure to send them receipts of your purchases.

Second, make a formal appeal

Before proceeding to an independent appeals system, you must make sure you’ve exhausted the parking company’s internal parking fine appeals process.

If the parking company is accredited and rejects your initial dispute, you can follow the formal appeals process of the trade association that they’re a member of :

If the independent adjudicator agrees with you, the private parking charge will be cancelled.

But if your appeal is refused, the company can carry on seeking payment and ultimately has the option of taking you to court.

If you lose your appeal, you will not have to pay compensation and the parking charge will not increase.

You will, however, have to pay the other sides costs if you lose in court.

Ignore unaccredited firms

  • Only members of accredited schemes can access DVLA data, while non-members can't.
  • This means some independent car park operators can’t get your details in order to pursue a parking fine against you.
  • If you write to the company to complain about a parking charge, you are inadvertently providing them with your name and address.

Refusing to pay the Parking Charge Notice

If you refuse to pay, you’re likely to receive letters demanding payment.

Some will come from the car park operator, others from separate agencies or debt collectors.

The parking firm may complain but they can’t damage your credit record or send bailiffs to your house - they can only enforce the charge by taking the time and expense of court action.

The only way a parking company can damage your credit rating is if the case is taken to court and you lose and you still don’t pay.

This is because the company is not providing credit but merely involved in a billing dispute for a service.

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