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Council and Police Fines
Penalty Charge Notice

How Long Does a Council Have to Respond to a PCN Appeal?

Scott Nelson MoneyNerd Janine Marsh MoneyNerd
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 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 28th, 2024
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how long council respond to pcn appeal

Have you received a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) and feel unsure about the next steps? You’ve come to the right place. Every month, over 130,000 people visit our website seeking guidance on fines and parking tickets.

We know that a PCN can be a source of worry and confusion. So, in this article, we’ll cover:

  • What a PCN is and why you might have received one.
  • The rules about when you need to pay it.
  • How you can make a PCN appeal if you think the charge is not right.
  • How long does a council have to respond to a PCN appeal.
  • Times when you might not have to pay a PCN.
  • What can happen if you choose not to pay your PCN.

We know how a PCN can make you feel stressed. But, you might find comfort in knowing that you’re not alone! In fact, Churchill Motor Insurance reported in 2021 an 8% increase in penalty charge notices (PCNs) in Britain, with over 5.2 million issued.1

Don’t worry; we’re here to help you understand your PCN and make the right choice. Let’s get started!

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. 

Do you have to pay a Penalty Charge Notice?

You must pay a Penalty Charge Notice or make an appeal.

If your appeal is unsuccessful you will still have to pay.

If you ignore a Penalty Charge Notice, the council can increase the fine by 50%. They do this by sending you something called a charge certificate

If you still refuse to pay, the fine can be registered as a debt in court and a judge can give the council permission to enforce the debt with bailiffs.

You don’t want bailiffs to be involved because they charge expensive fees which get added to your debt

What are the consequences of ignoring a PCN?

The consequences of ignoring a PCN and refusing to pay the fine, can be far-reaching.

Not only will you be chased by enforcement officers (bailiffs), but you will also receive a default on your credit file.

It means getting a County Court Judgement (CCJ) which remains you’re your credit file for 6 years if you don’t settle it within 30 days.

Successful Appeal Case Study


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.

Get started

In partnership with Just Answer.

Penalty Charge Notice informal appeals

The first type of appeal you might be able to make is an informal one.

After receiving the PCN, you can make an informal appeal directly to the council, stating why you think the PCN has been wrongfully served. 

You usually have 14 or 21 days to make this informal appeal.

If you make it within 14 days, the 50% reduction is usually held until a decision is made, so you’ll get another opportunity to save some money, should the appeal be rejected

Appeal Process Steps

If you want to appeal your PCN, it’s crucial to understand the process. That’s why I’ve created this table that explains each step you should take.

If you want to learn more about PCNs, don’t forget to read our detailed guide.

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.

PCN formal appeals (representations!)

As mentioned above, if you haven’t paid the fine after 28 days, the owner of the vehicle will receive something called a Notice to Owner.

This is a notice to alert the owner of the fine, which they may not be aware of if someone else was driving at the time the PCN was left on the vehicle. 

A Notice to Owner also gives the owner a chance to make a formal appeal within the next 28 days.

This is also called a representation.

They won’t be able to appeal on the basis that they weren’t driving because Penalty Charge Notices are obligated to be paid by the registered keeper anyway

Formal appeals are letters or online submissions detailing why the fine should be cancelled and should include evidence to support any claims

For example, if you were late back to the car because you had to give a witness statement to the police, you could use the crime reference number and possibly a letter from the police force to support your appeal

Some councils state that there are strict reasons you can appeal. But this isn’t true.

You can appeal for any reason you believe justifies not receiving the PCN, as long as it is truthful

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

Get started

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How Long Does a Council Have to Respond?

A local authority has 56 days to respond to a Penalty Charge Notice appeal.

During these eight weeks, the council cannot request that you pay or increase the fine for not paying

Some drivers might decide to make a weaker appeal to buy themselves additional time.

However, it’s important to remember that the fine is reduced by 50% if you pay within the first 14 or 21 days

» TAKE ACTION NOW: Get legal support from JustAnswer

What happens if the council missed the deadline?

If the council misses the 56-day deadline to respond to the PCN appeal, they no longer have the opportunity to respond to the appeal and it automatically gets accepted

Therefore, if the council don’t respond, you don’t have to pay.

The council may claim that it never received your appeal if it was sent in the post rather than uploaded via the council’s website.

This is why it’s important to keep a copy of your appeal letter and keep proof that you posted it

Check out the dilemma one motorist faced when the council didn’t respond within 56 days to his appeal.

Source: Moneysavingexpert

Will they miss the decision deadline?

It’s highly unlikely that the council will miss the deadline to give a decision on the Penalty Charge Notice.

Most local authorities dedicate enough resources to these tasks to ensure no PCN appeal response is missed by the deadline. 

However, it has happened before. So it’s not impossible to get your PCN cancelled due to the council being slow.

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.

Try it below

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In partnership with Just Answer.


  1. Direct Line Group — Parking Fines Statistics
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The authors
Scott Nelson MoneyNerd
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.