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Penalty Charge Notice

Appeal PCN – What You Need To Know

Scott Nelson MoneyNerd Janine Marsh MoneyNerd
By
Scott
Scott Nelson MoneyNerd

Scott Nelson

Debt Expert

Scott Nelson is a renowned debt expert who supports people in debt with debt management and debt solution resources.

Learn more about Scott
&
Janine
Janine Marsh MoneyNerd

Janine Marsh

Financial Expert

Janine is a financial expert who supports individuals with debt management, cost-saving resources, and navigating parking tickets.

Learn more about Janine
· May 27th, 2024
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Appeal PCN

Did you receive a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) and are feeling unsure about how to handle it? Don’t worry; this guide is here to help.

Every month, over 130,000 people visit our website to seek advice on fines and parking tickets. Also, in 2021, Churchill Motor Insurance reported an 8% increase in penalty charge notices (PCNs) in Britain, with over 5.2 million issued1, so you’re not alone.

In this article, we will help you understand:

  • What a PCN is, and why you might have received one.
  • If you must pay it straight away.
  • How to make an appeal if you think the charge is not fair.
  • Situations when you might not need to pay at all.
  • What could happen if you decide not to pay.

Getting a PCN can be quite upsetting, and the whole process might seem a bit puzzling. But don’t worry; we’re here to walk you through everything you need to know.

Most Appeals Succeed

In some circumstances, you might have a legitimate reason not to pay your fine.

It’s a bit sneaky, but the last time I needed legal advice, I paid £5 for a trial to chat with an online solicitor called JustAnswer.

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

Chat below to get started with JustAnswer

*Around 35,000 people dispute their tickets each year with the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, and a striking 64% of those appeals are successful, so it’s well worth a try. 

Where can you legally park in the UK?

The RAC has published a comprehensive guide discussing where you can and can’t legally park in the UK. If you have a question about parking laws in the UK, it has probably been answered in their long post. Everything is covered from parking on private land, yellow lines, white zig zags and more. 

Penalty Charge Notice Vs Fixed Penalty Notice 

It’s important to know the difference between a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) and a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN). The former are issued by councils and transport authorities as explained above, while the latter is issued by the police or the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). 

A Fixed Penalty Notice is issued for more serious traffic offences, such as speeding. When you receive a Fixed Penalty Notice, it’s likely you will also receive points on your license. Paying a Fixed Penalty Notice will prevent the matter from escalating to the magistrate’s court. But you’ll need to go to court to appeal against a Fixed Penalty Notice, and you may have to pay court costs. 

Successful Appeal Case Study

Situation

Initial Fine £100
Additional Fees £171
Total Fine £271

The Appeal Process

Scott used JustAnswer, online legal service to enhance his appeal. The trial of this cost him just £5.

Total Fine £271
Cost of legal advice £5

JustAnswer helped Scott craft the best appeal possible and he was able to win his case.

Scott’s fine was cancelled and he only paid £5 for the legal help.

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In partnership with Just Answer.

What happens if you don’t pay a fine?

Ignoring a PCN can make the fine grow bigger and could even lead to court action and a visit from an enforcement officer (bailiff).

We cover the three steps that may take place if you choose to not pay the PCN in your name. 

#1: Charge Certificate

A charge certificate will be issued to you if you do not pay the PCN in the 28 days given. This charge certificate extends the time you have to repay by 14 more days. However, this is not just a final reminder. Once a charge certificate has been sent, the original fine is increased by 50%.

For example, if you received an £80 fine for illegal parking and then received a charge certificate due to non-payment, you will now owe £120. 

#2: Court Order

If you do not pay the increased fine after 14 days have passed, the PCN issuer could begin legal action. They could ask for a court order to be issued against you, which will force you to pay the fine. This court order is otherwise known as an order of recovery. After receiving a court order to pay, you’ll be given an additional 21 days to pay the fine. 

Learn how to appeal against a PCN court order towards the end of this guide!

#3: Enforcement Action

If you do not clear the full PCN debt after 21 days, the issuer can then use enforcement officers to recover the money owed. They will send these officers, also known as bailiffs, to your home. They will request you make a full payment or could repossess valuables to clear the debt.

» TAKE ACTION NOW: Get legal support from JustAnswer

Can you challenge it?

You’re allowed to appeal against your PCN as long as you lodge your appeal within 28 days of being issued with the notice. How you received your PCN will determine if you first have to make an informal appeal or not. 

Informal appeals Vs formal appeals

You should make an informal appeal to a local council when the PCN was issued by it being left on your vehicle or handed to you in the street. You should contact your council to clarify how to make an informal appeal.

In any other situation, including PCNs from other groups or issued through the post (including parking tickets from local councils), you will need to make a formal appeal. You can also make a formal appeal if an informal appeal was rejected. A formal challenge is also known as a representation. 

Your representation should clearly outline the reason or reasons why you believe the PCN should be cancelled and you should not have to pay a fine. This needs to be done in writing. To back up your claims, you should provide as much evidence as possible.

Your supporting evidence can be anything that strengthens your application, such as photographic evidence of your vehicle parked or an out of order sign on a ticket machine. 

appeal pcn

We can see here that this forum user on MoneySavingExpert noticed that there was no other sign visible, so they might have grounds to appeal their pcn.

In most cases, appeals follow a standard process that you can learn more about by checking out the table below.

Process: Steps you should take:
When you receive the ticket… You should gather as much evidence as you can to support your appeal claim and prove that the ticket was unfairly issued.
If you were given the ticket in person/attached to your car… You must make an informal appeal (sent to the local authority/council that issued the PCN) within 14 days. This should be a letter with the evidence proving why the ticket was incorrectly given.
If it was posted to you… You will be given 21 days to submit an informal appeal (from the day you received the letter). Your informal appeal should be a letter with the evidence proving why the ticket was incorrectly given.
If the informal appeal is rejected… You will receive a Notice to Owner and will have 28 days to respond to this with a formal appeal. You can conduct the formal appeal online or via paper form. The Traffic Penalty Tribunal can send you one of these forms.
If the formal appeal is rejected… You will receive a Notice of Rejection. From here, you are free to challenge the council’s verdict at an independent tribunal.
If the independent tribunal disagrees with your appeal… You should pay the ticket within 28 days of the tribunal rejecting your appeal. If you don’t, the fine will be increased by 50%.
If you don’t have the money to pay the fine, you should contact Citizens Advice or another debt charity.

How do you write a letter of appeal?

Your letter of PCN appeal needs to include your name, address, penalty or parking charge notice reference number, your vehicle registration number and the date your PCN was issued. It should then go on to state a valid reason or reasons why you believe the PCN should be cancelled and no fine should be owed. 

You can save time and worry by downloading the free appeal PCN letter template from MoneyNerd. It makes appealing your PCN easier and quicker. The letter should be accompanied by supporting evidence, which may include a witness statement or photographic evidence.  

Getting the support of a Solicitor can take a huge weight off your mind.

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What is the best excuse to challenge a ticket?

The best excuse to use when appealing a parking ticket is that you were not parked illegally. Naturally, you’ll only be able to use this excuse if you were in fact parked legally. Some of the other good excuses to get out of a parking fine include inadequate road signs, breaking down or the method to pay for parking was out of order. 

You can read some other ways to get out of a parking ticket on this page of the Citizens Advice website.  

What happens if it’s rejected?

If your formal representation against a PCN is rejected, you will be sent a ‘notice of rejection’ and be given a further 28 days to make a full payment. Alternatively, you can escalate the formal appeal to an independent tribunal. 

If you don’t pay and don’t escalate the formal appeal within the 28 days given, you will be issued with a charge certificate that gives you a further 14 days to pay and increased the fine by 50%. If it continues to go unpaid it will lead to a court order and potentially the use of bailiffs. 

Escalate to the Independent Tribunal

You have 28 days to escalate your PCN appeal to an independent tribunal if you believe the outcome of your formal appeal was wrong. This appeal process is different depending on where you live in the UK. 

If you escalate your formal appeal to an independent tribunal in England or Wales, you’ll either use the London Tribunal or the Traffic Penalty Tribunal. 

London Tribunal Vs Traffic Penalty Tribunal

If your PCN was issued in London, you must use the London Tribunal. For PCNs issued anywhere else in England or Wales, you must use the Traffic Penalty Tribunal

The London Tribunal adjudicates on all appeals against local London councils, as well as appeals against PCNs issued by Transport for London. You can even lodge your new formal appeal online using their website. You’ll need to re-state your case to the tribunal. 

The Traffic Penalty Tribunal accepts all PCN appeals against local authorities outside of London, including those in Wales. Independent lawyers will judge your case, which can also be submitted online via the Traffic Penalty Tribunal’s website. 

In Scotland

You must escalate your appeal in Scotland with the Parking and Bus Lane Tribunal for Scotland (PBLTS) after receiving a rejection from the Scottish local authority. You must do this within 28 days. There are eight reasons why the tribunal will overturn the decision in your favour. These are written in law and available to read here

In Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland also has a dedicated department and independent tribunal for dealing with PCN appeals after first being rejected by the issuer. You can find more information using the Department of Justice website

Can you challenge a court order?

You can challenge a court order requesting that you pay a PCN as long as you make your appeal within 21 days of the court order being issued. You can only successfully appeal against the court order if either:

  1. You already paid the PCN in full
  2. You were not given information on how to appeal the original PCN
  3. Your PCN appeal is still in progress and has not been rejected
  4. Your PCN was rejected but is now in progress with the independent tribunal 

Hire a Parking Solicitor for less than a coffee.

If you’re thinking about appealing your parking ticket then getting some professional advice is a good idea.

Getting the support of a Solicitor can make your appeal much more likely to win.

For a £5 trial, Solicitors from JustAnswer can look at your case and help you create an airtight appeal.

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How do you do it?

There are different forms to challenge a PCN court order. The right form to use depends on the reason for your PCN. A full list of the forms can be found here

Once completed, you need to send the form to the Traffic Enforcement Centre. You can send a digital version of the form to [email protected] or send a hard copy by post to:

Traffic Enforcement Centre
County Court Business Centre
St Katherine’s House
21-27 St Katherine’s Street
Northampton
NN1 2LH

If your appeal against a court order is successful, the order of recovery will be erased. Your PCN may then be cancelled, or the PCN issuer might restart the process using the correct procedures that were not used the first time around. 

Challenge a parking ticket from a private company

It’s also possible that you received a parking ticket that was not from a local council. Some private landowners will give you a parking ticket if you exceed your allotted time or did not buy a ticket to park at all. One example of this could be supermarkets. 

If you have received a parking ticket from a private company, you can still appeal against the parking ticket if you believe it is wrong. You should speak to them directly to find out where to send your appeal. If they reject the appeal, you can also escalate the appeal to an independent tribunal. 

The independent service you should use will be determined by what accredited trade association the company has memberships with. If they are members of the British Parking Association (BPA), escalate the matter to Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA). And if they are a member of the International Parking Committee (IPC), use the Independent Appeals Service (IAS). 

References

  1. Direct Line Group — Parking Fines Statistics
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The authors
Scott Nelson MoneyNerd
Author
Scott Nelson is a renowned debt expert who supports people in debt with debt management and debt solution resources.
Janine Marsh MoneyNerd
Appeals Expert
Janine is a financial expert who supports individuals with debt management, cost-saving resources, and navigating parking tickets.