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How to Appeal a Ticket (With Examples)

Scott Nelson MoneyNerd
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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.

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· May 27th, 2024
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Want to appeal your parking ticket but not sure how? You are in the right place! More than 130,000 people visit our site monthly for information about parking tickets.

Here is our quick guide to appealing parking tickets. In this article, we’ll take a look at:

  • The different types of parking tickets that can be issued
  • The appeals process for different types of tickets
  • Example processes for appealing parking tickets.

How do I appeal a parking ticket?

Your options for appealing a parking ticket depend on the type of parking ticket you have. In our experience, your parking ticket will fall into one of these categories:

  • Penalty Charge Notice (PCN): A PCN is issued by a local authority or council on public land.
  • Excess Charge Notice (ECN): Like a PCN, an ECN is issued by a council or local authority for an infraction on public land.
  • Parking Charge Notice: Not to be confused with a PCN, a parking charge notice is issued by a landowner or parking company for an infraction on private land. 
  • Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN): An FPN is issued by the police and can be for a number of different things. However, for parking, they are issued for parking on red routes, white zig-zags, or breaking parking rules where the police manage parking. 

Keep in mind that you don’t pay a parking ticket that you’re appealing. This is because paying the ticket looks like an admission of guilt – you acknowledge that you did something wrong and pay a ticket as restitution. If you didn’t do anything wrong, why would you pay?

But if you are unsure, contact the issuing authority. They will be able to tell you their appeals process in detail and answer any questions that you may have. 

Most Ticket Appeals Succeed

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

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*According to Martin Lewis, 56% of people who try to appeal their ticket are successful and get the charge overturned, so it’s well worth a try.

How do I proceed?

The following is a rough guide on how to appeal a PCN. You can contact the issuing council at any point if you need more information on their specific appeals process.

Informal appeal

To appeal a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN), you need to write to your council or whichever council issued the PCN. You can find their address and other information by looking them up.

In your letter, you need to clearly state why you object to the PCN. You are making an informal appeal at this stage. There is a time limit to an informal appeal – it must be made within 14 days of you being given the PCN, or within 21 days if it was sent to you via post.

You should include as much relevant information and evidence in your letter as possible. Such evidence can include:

  • Photos to show that there were no road markings that restricted parking
  • Photos to show that relevant signage was missing, damaged, or obscured 
  • Photos to show that any displayed parking information was confusing or difficult to understand
  • A valid pay and display ticket
  • A repair note if you were unable to move your vehicle because it had broken down
  • A witness statement from someone who was with you explaining what happened. This needs to be clearly labelled ‘witness statement.’ 

We recommend sending copies of your evidence rather than the originals – if copies get lost or damaged in the post, your evidence won’t be destroyed. We also recommend sending your letters via recorded delivery if possible so you have proof that it arrived.

The actual body of your letter also needs to include some key pieces of information:

  • The PCN number
  • Your vehicle registration number
  • Your address
  • The date, time, and location of where your ticket was issued.

If your PCN appeal is successful, you will be notified. The PCN will be cancelled, and you won’t have to pay.

Formal Appeal

If your informal appeal is rejected, you have the opportunity to restate your case by making a formal appeal. You may also need to follow from this stage if you have already received a ‘notice to owner.’

A notice to owner letter sounds intimidating, but don’t panic. You have 28 days to make a formal appeal, which is ample time to put together a robust appeal.

Keep in mind that this is free to appeal, and the notice to owner letter will go through how you make your formal appeal.

Generally, you only have to pay half the value of your fine if you pay quickly after your informal appeal is rejected. This might be worth considering if there was a strong or obvious reason for the council to reject your appeal. 

If you don’t pay your appeal quickly enough, your fine will go up by 50%. This usually happens around the 28-day mark. 

Tribunal appeal

You will be sent a notice of rejection if your formal appeal is rejected. If you want to challenge this, you will need to go before a tribunal. This is free and you don’t actually have to go to the tribunal – you just submit your evidence and reasons for appeal in writing. 

If your appeal is unsuccessful and the tribunal sides with the council, you will have to pay. You need to pay within 28 days, or your fine will increase by another 50%. 

If you continue to refuse to pay, the council can take you to court. This can have a long-lasting and negative impact on your credit score. You might also have to pay court fees on top of your fine. 

You can start your tribunal application with the Traffic Penalty Tribunal for England and Wales here, here if you are challenging a ticket issued in London, or here if you are challenging a ticket in Scotland.

How do I appeal an ECN?

You appeal an Excess Charge Notice (ECN) the same way that you appeal a PCN.

Follow the above steps, and you will be told if your appeal is successful.

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.

Get started

In partnership with Just Answer.

How do I appeal a Parking Charge Notice?

A Parking Charge Notice is not the same as a PCN. A Parking Charge Notice is issued for a parking infraction on private land.

Is the parking company an ATA member?

If the parking company is not a member of an accredited trade association (ATA), don’t do anything until they write to you. It is unlikely that a non-ATA member will be able to get hold of you anyway – the DVLA will only share information with ATA members.

You can check for ATA membership with the British Parking Association (BPA) or the International Parking Community (IPC).

If you get a ticket in the post from a non-ATA member, you should reply as they have your information. However, they may have got hold of your information illegally so you can make a complaint to the DVLA.

Do this by writing to the Data Sharing Strategy and Compliance Team, DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1DY. You can then write to the Information Commissioner if you feel that your complaint hasn’t been dealt with adequately. 

Write to the parking company

If you have had your parking charge notice in the post, you should probably reply to the parking company. You can do this via an informal appeal, which we outline below.

Use the notice and check the company’s website to make sure that you are following their policies for objecting to a notice or ticket. Keep in mind that you need to write to them and object before you can take your case to an independent appeals service. 

We recommend that you include as much relevant information and evidence as possible, including:

  • Photos to show that relevant signage was missing, damaged, or obscured 
  • Photos to show that any displayed parking information was confusing or difficult to understand
  • A valid pay and display ticket
  • A repair note if you were unable to move your vehicle because it had broken down
  • A witness statement from someone who was with you explaining what happened. This needs to be clearly labelled ‘witness statement’
  • Permission from the landowner. 

If you received your parking charge notice from parking in a hospital car park, you can send evidence that your appointment was running late. A hospital receptionist will be able to print a note on headed paper that explains there were delays beyond your control.

Formally appeal to an appeals service

If the parking company is a member of an ATA, you can appeal to an independent appeals service. This is free to do and recommended if you think your appeal was rejected unfairly. 

Unfortunately, this process is different for every parking company, so you need to research how to proceed. But generally, a BPA member will give you 28 days from when your appeal was rejected to make a formal appeal to Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA).

What if my appeal is rejected?

You still have options if your appeal is rejected or if you are unable to appeal, but these can be expensive. You might be better off just paying the ticket.

You could not pay the ticket and see if the parking company will take you to court. If you lose, you’ll have to pay the fine and possibly court costs. If you win, you won’t have to pay the fine, and the parking company will need to pay court costs. 

After a landmark case in 2015, parking companies can take you to court over parking charge notices and could win. 

Instead of refusing to pay and risking legal action, you could pay and then try to get your money back. If you write to the company and make clear that you’re ‘paying under protest,’ you could then make a small claim against the company in court.

You will have to pay a small fee, and you might have to pay court costs if you lose. If you are considering taking legal action, you should contact a charity like Citizens Advice for specific guidance.

What about a Fixed Penalty Notice?

You need to work out if your Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) was issued by the police or the council. You then need to write to them with your informal appeal and explain why you object.

You should include as much relevant information and evidence in your letter as possible. Such evidence can include:

  • Photos to show that there were no road markings that restricted parking
  • Photos to show that relevant signage was missing, damaged, or obscured 
  • Photos to show that any displayed parking information was confusing or difficult to understand
  • A valid pay and display ticket
  • A repair note if you were unable to move your vehicle because it had broken down
  • A witness statement from someone who was with you explaining what happened. This needs to be clearly labelled ‘witness statement.’ 

We recommend sending copies of your evidence rather than the originals – if copies get lost or damaged in the post, your evidence won’t be destroyed. We also recommend sending your letters via recorded delivery if possible so you have proof that it arrived.

The actual body of your letter also needs to include some key pieces of information:

  • The FPN number
  • Your vehicle registration number
  • Your address
  • The date, time, and location of where your ticket was issued.

If your FPN was issued by the police, you need to send your letter to the Central Ticket Office nearest to where the notice was issued. You can check with the issuing police force on the notice to make sure you are sending your informal appeal to the right place. You can also check that the area will take your informal objection. 

Informal appeal rejected

If your informal appeal is rejected, you might be better off paying the FPN. Your only other option now is to ask for a hearing in a magistrates’ court.

A hearing in a court might not be a good idea for you because your fine will increase by 50% if you lose, and you have to pay additional court costs. It can also be stressful – it is court, after all.

If you are considering appealing through a magistrates’ court, you should seek legal advice. Several debt charities will be able to give you free and specific guidance and answer any questions you may have.

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

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What if I get clamped?

If your car gets clamped, you need to check the notice to see if it’s from the council, DVLA, police, or a private company acting on their behalf. These are the only organisations or people allowed to clamp your car on private land. 

If your car has been clamped by a private landowner or a company acting on their behalf, you should phone the police on a non-emergency number. The police can then come and remove the clamp for you.

We don’t recommend taking off the clamp yourself as, technically, this is criminal damage or even theft. You can be taken to court for these offences. 

What do I do if I can’t afford my parking ticket?

But what do you do if you have exhausted all other options but can’t afford to pay for your ticket? 

Priority debts carry the most serious consequences if you don’t pay them. These consequences can be anything from bailiff visits to court summons or even home repossession in the most serious instances.
We have a whole host of resources available to help you work through your debts and work out which are priorities.

That said, a parking ticket is a priority debt, so you should pay it off as soon as possible.

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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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.