1 Contest your parking ticket
The ticket you're issued should include contact details for the company that has issued it.
If you think the charge is unfair or you think it shouldn't have been issued, you can contact the company or the landowner explaining why you're refusing to pay.
Try to gather as much evidence for why you’re refusing to pay as possible and include it with your letter.
You must follow the internal appeals process of the parking firm involved in order to contest your parking ticket in the first instance.
But do bear in mind that if you 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 paying a reduced charge - unless the operator agrees to extend the period, which they're not required to do.
Eight reasons you might refuse to pay
1. The contravention didn’t occur. For example, there were unclear or misleading signs, non-visible markings, or the ticket wasn't issued.
2. The parking firm is not a member of an accredited trade association (see below for more information).
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. The payment machines were out of order and there was no other way of paying.
6. The parking company wasn’t responsible for looking after the land you parked on - this has been known to happen.
7. The parking ticket is invalid. For example key details such as the registration number are recorded incorrectly.
8. Mitigating circumstances. For example, health issues or vehicle breakdown.
If the charge seems too high, you can ask for a breakdown of how the losses are calculated when you are challenging your payment.
If the amount charged is more than the landowner’s loss, then this could mean the penalty charge is unenforceable.
If the case goes to court, the court should only order you to pay the landowner’s actual losses.
2 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
We know that companies take notice of certain legal phrases when you complain or challenge unfair charges.
We also know it can be a hassle finding the time or knowing what to put in a formal letter in order to get the solution you want.
You can also download a copy of our template letters:
- Letter to start your formal appeal against a parking ticket
- Letter to contest a parking ticket because your vehicle was stolen
- Letter to contest a parking ticket on the grounds you didn’t own the vehicle
Which? believes there is still too much uncertainty about the new private land system, and would like to see proper regulation of private parking in the same way as council-run parking, as well as an independent appeals scheme that considers mitigating circumstances.
3 Make a formal appeal
Before proceeding to an independent appeals system, you must first make sure you've exhausted the parking company's internal appeals process.
If the parking company is accredited and rejects your initial appeal, then you can follow the formal appeals process of the trade association that they're a member of (either the BPA or the IPC).
This only applies to firms in the British Parking Association (BPA) Approved Operator Scheme or the Independent Parking Committee (IPC) Independent Appeals Service.
You have 28 days - after the rejection of your initial appeal - to make an appeal to an independent adjudicator like Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA) set up by the BPA, for its members.
The IPS Independent Appeals Service works in a similar way to POPLA but only allows you to appeal within 21 days of the rejection of your initial appeal.
If the independent adjudicator agrees with you, the charge will be cancelled.
If your appeal is refused, the company can carry on seeking payment and ultimately has the option of taking you to the small claims court.
If you lose your appeal, you will not have to pay any costs or compensation and the parking charge will not increase.
4 What if the firm is not accredited?
In order for parking companies to access DVLA data and pursue a parking fine against you, they have to be a member of an accredited trade association.
All members of an accredited trade association 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 charge against you.
If you write to the company to complain about a parking ticket, you are inadvertently providing them with your name and address which means they can then pursue you.
If the company has managed to obtain your details by other means, you can write to them disputing the parking ticket or you can continue to ignore it.
There is no independent appeals body for firms that aren't members of a trade body.
This means it's possible for anyone to issue parking charge notices and pursue them through the courts.
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.
5 Can I refuse to pay?
If you refuse to pay, you're likely to receive letters demanding payment.
Some will come from the car park operator themselves, 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.
- Motorists must appeal a ticket to the car park operator first before they can go to the appeals service.
- There's a very short timeframe in which a parking ticket can be challenged - just 28 days.
- The appeals service only applies to firms in the BPA's Approved Operator Scheme (AOS) or the IPC's Independent Appeals Service.
- POPLA will not consider mitigating circumstances when making its verdict.
- POPLA ruled on 23,500 cases brought to it in the year to March 2015. 45% of these were in favour of the motorist.
John Ward says:
If the stores advertise unlimited free parking then you have a case against them or perhaps the management company that operates the retail park. Unfortunately, if the signs in the parking area...
Pauline Welch says:
I recently went shopping where there are 10 stores & a McDonald’s. I spent nearly £300 in different stores only to be issued with a £100 parking fine because I had stayed just over 3 hours...
Alan Ormesher says:
I received a parking fine in a hotel car park in Bournemouth ,I appealed this as I had a viable ticket paid at the hotel.after 3 weeks I got a letter to say the fine had been cancelled but was...