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Appeal a Parking Ticket – Everything You Need to Know 2022

appeal parking ticket

For free and impartial money advice and guidance, visit MoneyHelper, to help you make the most of your money.

Do you want to know how to appeal a parking ticket the right way with the best excuses? You’re in the right place. 

Appealing to parking fines can be stressful and daunting to some people, causing them to give up and pay. Grow your confidence and knowledge of appealing a parking fine right here with MoneyNerd. 

Do You Have to Pay?

In many circumstances parking tickets are not enforceable.

It’s a bit sneaky, but last time I had a parking fine, I paid £5 for a trial to chat to an online solicitor.

Not only did I save £50 on solicitor fees, I also won my case and didn’t have to pay my £271 fine.

You can try it out now, just remember to cancel the trial once you’ve got your answer.

The two types of parking tickets

Motorists in the UK usually receive one of two types of parking tickets, depending on where the supposed parking contravention took place. 

The two types of parking fines are called Penalty Charge Notices and Parking Charge Notices. Even though they sound similar they should be dealt with differently. You need to know which one you have to know how to appeal your specific parking ticket. 

Penalty Charge Notice (PCN)

A Penalty Charge Notice, also known as a PCN for short, is a type of fine handed out by a local council. They are predominantly issued for parking contraventions on council-owned land, or for traffic offences, such as driving in a bus lane. 

The council parking fine might be served to you by a Council Enforcement Officer (CEO) who patrols council car parks, high streets and residential areas. If so, they will leave the parking ticket on your vehicle. Alternatively, you can be sent a PCN in the post when your contravention is caught on CCTV. The local authority will get your address by using your vehicle registration number and contacting the DVLA.

The cost of a PCN differs based on geography and the seriousness of the contravention. Most PCNs in London cost either £80 or £130. Outside of London, they can be somewhat cheaper. All councils offer 50% off the fine amount if you pay within 14 days, so you might want to consider this before appealing a council parking ticket. 

Parking Charge Notice

A Parking Charge Notice is a private parking ticket issued by a private car park operator or other private company. The parking company that issues the fine could operate a standalone car park, or it may be connected to a hospital, supermarket or business premises. 

If you park on private land and don’t pay the required parking fee, the company that owns the land can issue you with a parking ticket. This could be left on your vehicle or sent in the post if caught on camera. However, as we will discuss shortly, these are not real fines. They are more like a bill you have received from a private company. 

As of 2022, private tickets have been capped at £50 within England and Wales, except for London. This has halved the amount that a private parking company can charge, and if private companies try to fine you more than £50, they can be blocked from issuing any more parking tickets

What happens if you don’t pay a Penalty Charge Notice?

Your Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) must be paid or challenged within 28 days of being served. If you don’t do either of these things within that timeframe, the local council will increase your fine by 50%. This is done by sending you a “charge certificate”, which increases the fine and provides you with two more weeks to pay the full amount. 

For example, if you received a £130 fine for a parking contravention in London and didn’t pay or challenge the PCN within 28 days, you would now have to pay £195 within the next 14 calendar days. 

If you decided to ignore the increased fine, the council could take court action against you. They’ll ask a judge to issue a court order for you to pay the fine, which is now considered a debt. The order makes it your legal responsibility to pay.

Note: If you receive notice of pending legal action without being aware of the parking ticket, you can challenge a court order and even have it struck off. The council must follow a stringent process before taking you to court. Admin errors might mean the council hasn’t done what it was supposed to. 

Ignoring a judge’s order for you to pay the debt will enable the local authority to use debt enforcement action, which more often than not means the use of bailiffs. A bailiff will try to recover the full payment or seize possession of your goods to an equal value of the debt (and the expensive fees that they charge). Your goods may then be sold to pay off the debt. 

What happens if you don’t pay for private parking tickets?

The consequences of not paying a private parking fine aren’t as certain compared to when you don’t pay a council parking ticket. The parking company is likely to:

  1. Send payment reminders
  2. Add charges or interest to the fine
  3. Employ a debt collection agency to chase you for the money (not the same as bailiffs!)
  4. Threaten legal action

Technically, you don’t have to pay the fine until a court orders you to do so. These are not real fines and are more like a business sending you an invoice. However, you might want to pay the fine to avoid the possibility of court action and further expense. 

There is of course the possibility that the parking company will not take any further action and you could get away with not paying. But this is a risk. 

Interestingly, the parking company or any other company should not threaten legal action if they don’t intend to go through with it. They may not intend to take you to court if it doesn’t make financial sense to do so, especially now that these fines are mostly capped at £50.  

Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/selective-focus-photography-of-die-cast-model-toy-cars-2691481/ 

Can you appeal a Penalty Charge Notice?

You’re allowed to appeal against unfair parking fines from the council. But you must make your appeal within 28 days of being issued the PCN. You cannot make an appeal after this period as you’ll already be due a charge certificate. You cannot make an appeal against a charge certificate. 

How to appeal a Penalty Charge Notice

The way you appeal against your council parking ticket depends on the way it was served to you. You’ll have to make an informal appeal before you can use the formal appeal process. 

Informal appeal vs formal appeals process

You must make an informal appeal when the PCN was handed to you by a Civil Enforcement Officer or the Civil Enforcement Officer left the PCN on your vehicle. In any other situation, you start the appeal process by making a formal appeal. A formal appeal in this context is also known as a representation

Therefore, a formal appeal is only required when your contravention was caught on CCTV. If you make an informal appeal and it gets rejected by the local authority, you typically have the option to convert it to a formal appeal. Some councils don’t provide the option of an informal appeal, so you will need to make a formal appeal no matter how the PCN was issued. 

How to appeal a parking ticket (making a representation)

To formally appeal a council parking ticket you must state the reasons why you think the parking fine should be cancelled. This might be in a letter or as a document. For example, you might argue that the ticket machine was out of order and there was no way for you to pay. We provide some of the best excuses for appealing parking tickets later. 

Your representation might need additional evidence to support your claims. The council might be able to know when its machine wasn’t working by looking at transaction records. But they might not and you should attach a photo or video of the machine not working. 

You don’t always have to provide photos or videos. You can supply witness statements, invoices from mechanics or even police or medical records if you couldn’t get to your vehicle because you were involved in an emergency situation

Viewing the evidence against you

As part of the appeals process, you might want to view the evidence the council holds against you. They could have CCTV footage of your parking contravention. Most councils allow you to view this evidence online by entering your vehicle registration number and PCN number. The latter can be found on your parking ticket. 

It’s a good idea to check what evidence they have before you make an appeal. The CCTV footage might also support some of your own claims against the parking fine. 

How do you write a letter to challenge a PCN?

Councils usually give you the option of submitting your representation as a letter in writing or submitting it online via their website. If you decide to write a letter, you should write a clear letter that states your PCN details, arguments against the parking ticket and attach any evidence to support the appeal. 

If you’re unsure of how to start or structure your letter, we have made things easy. Download our PCN appeal letter template at no cost now. You can use our template to get your appeal off to a good start. 

What happens if my formal PCN appeal is rejected?

The local authority will write to you to let you know the outcome of your appeal. If they reject the representation, they must provide further details on how to escalate the appeal. You can escalate your appeal to an independent appeals service. A tribunal will take another look at your appeal and make a final unbiased decision. 

The tribunal that looks at your appeal depends on where the location of the council. For example, London Tribunals handles all escalated appeals for London Borough Councils. 

Can you appeal a Parking Charge Notice?

You can appeal a Parking Charge Notice by following the instructions on the parking fine by the specified deadline. However, before you make an appeal there’s something you need to know. 

Only a parking company that is an Accredited Trade Association (ATA) member can ask the DVLA for your name and address. If the car park operator is not a member, they will have no way of contacting you unless you write to them first, which is what you might do when trying to appeal.

So before you decide to appeal, it’s important to check whether the car park operator is a member of the ATA. You can do this by checking the websites of the International Parking Community (IPC) or the British Parking Association (BPA).  

If a car park company has written to your address but they are not an ATA member, there is a high chance that they retrieved your address illegally. In this case, you should make a complaint to the DVLA or the Information Commissioner

How to appeal a parking ticket on private land

If the company is a member of an Accredited Trade Association, you’ll need to write a letter to them explaining why you object to the parking ticket. Include your parking ticket details and any evidence you have to support your appeal, including photographs, invoices or other relevant records. 

If you had parked in a hospital but your appointment was delayed, it’s a good idea to get confirmation of the delay from a hospital receptionist. 

Use the independent appeals service

If you’re appealing against a fine from an ATA member, you can send your appeal to an independent tribunal. This is a free service so it’s worth considering. The independent panel will assess your appeal and could rule in favour of you, so you don’t have to pay the fine. 

The independent appeals service you have to use depends on whether the parking company is a member of the ICA or BPA. You should send your appeal to Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA) if they’re a member of BPA. And if they’re members of the ICA, you must lodge the appeal with the Independent Appeals Service

You have 28 days or 21 days to make the appeal to these groups, respectively. However, you can make an appeal with the latter within one year of the fine if you pay a £15 fee. 

Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/blue-coupe-on-road-2127740/ 

What is the best excuse to appeal a parking ticket?

The best excuses when appealing parking tickets are that you were parked legally, road signs were unclear and the machine to pay wasn’t working, leaving you with no way to pay. 

Learn more about these excuses and other reasons to appeal a parking ticket in the UK below:

  1. You were parked correctly

Of course, the best excuse against a parking ticket is that you were parked correctly or the parking officer miscalculated the time left on your parking. The latter can be more difficult to prove than the latter. 

By law, any council fine must be cancelled when you prove you parked correctly on the high street etc. And on private land, you haven’t broken any rules that are not clearly stated on car park signage. Private car park operators cannot state you broke terms and conditions of parking on their land when these terms are not visible.

  1. There was no method to pay

It’s quite common to find parking metres and machines out of order when we park in public or private spaces. This can be used as a good excuse to appeal the fine if there was no other easy method to pay. Was there another ticket machine on site? Or was there another simple way to pay?

Be aware that some car parks have installed signs telling you not to park if the ticket machine isn’t working. This is a way to stop people parking for free or successfully appealing fines for this reason. 

  1. Road signs were not visible or clear

Unclear road signs may be the result of weather, criminal damage or growing trees. If this stops you from clearly seeing the parking rules, you can use these unclear signs as a reason to appeal. 

Interestingly, if you were caught on camera and sent a PCN in the post, the car park must have a sign to state that CCTV is in operation. 

  1. Your vehicle broke down

You might win a parking ticket appeal if your car broke down and you were waiting for a mechanic to fix it before moving on. However, this one isn’t as cut and dry as the others. Some car parks and councils may argue that you should have bought another ticket while waiting for the mechanic to fix it. You’ll also need good evidence, such as a report or invoice from the mechanic. 

If you fixed the vehicle yourself then this could make it even more difficult to successfully appeal using this reason, unless you prove you’re a qualified car mechanic. 

  1. You were within the grace period

Private car parks and companies must provide you with a grace period lasting ten minutes. This is the time to get to your vehicle and exit the car park. If you arrived just after your allotted time to park was up, and subsequently received a parking fine, you could use this as a reason to appeal.

However, some private car parks are known to try and reject these appeals by starting the clock when you entered the car park, rather than the time you bought the ticket. Stand your ground on this one. 

  1. You couldn’t return to your car (for good reason)

Some motorists get involved in emergency situations and cannot return to their vehicle in time. The most common example is a medical emergency where you needed to see a doctor or go to the hospital. You can use your medical records or any police records to show you weren’t able to get back to your car in time. 

Can I appeal a parking ticket after paying it?

You cannot appeal a parking ticket after you have already paid. As soon as you pay the parking fine, you are accepting liability to pay and that you are guilty of the parking contravention. Therefore you need to choose between paying the fine or challenging it. 

Some people hope they can pay the 50% reduced fine (within 14 days) and then make an appeal, so if the appeal is rejected they still won’t need to pay the full amount. But this isn’t possible.

You’ll need to decide whether your PCN appeal is strong enough to win, or settle to pay the reduced fine. 

What makes a parking ticket invalid?

A parking ticket only becomes invalid if the council or parking company have taken too long to issue the parking fine. Clerical errors on a parking ticket don’t make the parking ticket invalid. 

You can learn more about timescales for serving a PCN or private land parking ticket on this new post!

A private parking fine cannot be legally enforced, i.e. the company cannot take you to court, after six years, providing you haven’t acknowledged the fine or partially paid it within that time. 

Appealing a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN)

A Fixed Penalty Notice is another type of fine that could be issued for a parking offence, albeit this time usually by the police. If you want to appeal a Fixed Penalty Notice you must appear in the Magistrate’s Court, which means you’ll have to pay court costs. The back of your Fixed Penalty Notice provides further details. 

Appealing an Excess Charge Notice

An Excess Charge Notice is another type of fine that could be issued by a local authority. You have seven days to make an appeal against the fine. The ticket will explain what you need to do. The council will take you to the Magistrate’s Court if you don’t pay or appeal by the deadline. 

Do You Have to Pay?

In many circumstances parking tickets are not enforceable.

It’s a bit sneaky, but last time I had a parking fine, I paid £5 for a trial to chat to an online solicitor.

Not only did I save £50 on solicitor fees, I also won my case and didn’t have to pay my £271 fine.

You can try it out now, just remember to cancel the trial once you’ve got your answer.

Need more help appealing parking tickets?

Thanks for reading this long-form guide explaining the intricacies of appealing parking tickets in the UK. Hopefully, you found the key information you need. 

If your parking ticket questions weren’t answered above, make sure to check out our other guides. We have lots of published posts all about parking fines and how to tackle them.

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