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Parking Charge Notice Ignore? What’s the Law 2022

Parking Charge Notice Letter

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

Parking Charge Notice – ignore or pay? This discussion post will ask whether you can ignore parking tickets from private companies and what could happen if you do. There is also a third option you may have not considered. Tackle your private parking ticket with our help. 

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.

What is a Parking Charge Notice?

A Parking Charge Notice is a parking ticket sent to you by a private company for parking on private land without consent or without paying the correct fee. If you park on private land and do not pay the required parking ticket or for the required duration, the private company has the right to send you a parking ticket. 

However, you should know that Parking Charge Notices are not official ‘fines’ as such. You haven’t broken a law on public land. The company considers that you have parked illegally by breaching a contract with them by entering their property. 

The most common places of private land where you could get a Parking Charge Notice are supermarkets, business premises, hospitals or simply a private car park in an urbanised area. 

When the private parking operator knows who was driving the vehicle and at fault for the parking offence, they should ask that specific person to pay. However, private car park operators can ask the registered owner of the vehicle to pay if they do not know who the driver was, as per the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. This is also known as “Keeper’s Liability”.

Parking Charge Notice Vs Penalty Charge Notice

A Parking Charge Notice is not the same as a Penalty Charge Notice. They can be mistakenly confused because they sound the same and use the same abbreviation – PCN. 

Whereas a Parking Charge Notice is the name for private parking tickets, a Penalty Charge Notice is issued by local councils for illegally parking in council areas, such as high streets. A Penalty Charge Notice can also be sent by the council for minor traffic offences, such as using a bus lane when you’re not allowed. 

Moreover, a Penalty Charge Notice can even be issued by transport authorities. For example, Transport for London can send you a Penalty Charge Notice if you have failed to pay one of their road fees on time, such as the London Congestion Charge. 

In a nutshell, a Parking Charge Notice is issued by a private parking company for incorrectly parking on private land, whereas Penalty Charge Notices are issued by local authorities, predominantly but not exclusively for illegal parking in council-owned areas. 

Parking Charge Notice

Should I ignore a Parking Charge Notice?

You should not ignore a Parking Charge Notice even if you don’t agree with it. You will need to engage with the parking company quickly if you want to appeal against the parking ticket. Moreover, ignoring a Parking Charge Notice could result in more serious action, starting with a court order. 

What happens when you ignore private parking fines?

Ignoring a private parking ticket could result in the fine increasing, and the parking company might ask a judge to issue a County Court Judgment (CCJ) against you, which forces you to pay. Or it could result in no further action. 

If you ignore a CCJ against you, the parking company may be given permission to use debt enforcement action, such as bailiffs, property charging orders, or even apply to take the debt from your wages. 

PCN Letter

Private parking fines debt collectors

Private parking tickets can be chased by the private company that owns the private land where you parked incorrectly. However, you should be aware that the company may decide to sell the debt to a debt collector if they have been unsuccessful at recovering payments. 

The company will usually sell the debt to a debt collector for much less than its actual worth. The debt collector will then chase you for payment to make a profit – or threaten further (legal) action. If you receive a parking ticket payment request from a debt collector that you don’t recognise, this could have happened to you. 

But you should also be wary of fake parking tickets scams!

Can you get a CCJ from a Parking Charge Notice?

You can be issued with a County Court Judgment (CCJ) for private parking fines that go unpaid. Before a parking company or debt collector will take you to court for a CCJ, they will try to recover the payment a number of times and are likely to offer an affordable repayment plan if required. 

A CCJ makes you legally responsible to pay the debt, or to make an arrangement with the parking company to pay in an affordable way. If you do not acknowledge the CCJ and continue to avoid paying, the parking ticket company can ask the courts to allow debt enforcement, which may involve the use of bailiffs. 

It’s essential that you have an updated address with the DVLA. If your private parking tickets are sent to the wrong address, you may be taken to court without actually knowing. However, you could use this as an excuse to have a CCJ set aside

Bailiffs for private parking fines

Bailiffs can only be used to recover the parking ticket debt after a CCJ has been issued and you still haven’t paid. The bailiffs will send a Notice of Enforcement letter to request a payment or to get in touch and discuss a payment plan. 

If you do not engage with them, these bailiffs for private parking fines will visit your home to try and recover payment. If you cannot or won’t pay, they have the power to seize possession of your goods and sell them to clear the debt. They cannot physically harm you or break into your locked home. 

At each stage of the bailiff’s work, more fees are charged and your debt grows bigger, so it is worthwhile to engage with the bailiffs at the earliest opportunity. The only exception is if you believe the bailiffs are not allowed to visit your home, which can be the case for vulnerable people and in specific circumstances. 


Can a Parking Charge Notice affect your credit?

The Parking Charge Notice itself will not appear on your credit file nor will it initially affect your credit score. But any CCJ you are issued for not paying private parking tickets will appear on your credit file and can affect your rating. 

When a CCJ has been added to your credit file, it can reduce your score by as much as 250 points, meaning it is significantly damaged. Paying your CCJ debt will improve the score, but it isn’t likely to make an equal improvement straight away. 

This would make it more difficult to get approved for loans, mortgages and other credit in the future. 

How do you pay a Parking Charge Notice?

Private parking companies should provide you with the different ways to pay the parking fine. Many allow you to pay private parking tickets online using a reference number and your vehicle registration number to local your parking fine and pay with a bank card. 

Alternatively, you may need to phone a number to pay. Always check the parking ticket company name and their number online first. It could help you to avoid parking ticket scams and fake debt collectors. 

Can you appeal against a Parking Charge Notice?

You have a right to honestly challenge a Parking Charge Notice if you believe you have received an unfair parking ticket. Your appeal could result in cancelled parking charges and you won’t have to pay the car park fine anymore. You’ll have a fixed timeframe to make your appeal. 

How to appeal against a private parking ticket

Parking operators will provide their own appeals process, which should be clearly explained on the ticket. You will need to make a formal appeal to the parking operator, also known as a representation. 

Your representation should include a detailed account of why you think you have received an unfair ticket (some possible excuses are listed below). Your arguments are more likely to be accepted if you provide strong accompanying evidence. This may include but is not limited to photographs and statements from independent witnesses. 

What is the best excuse to appeal a parking ticket?

The very best excuse to use when appealing against a parking ticket from private companies is that you did in fact pay or there has been an error on their part. Of course, this has to be the case. 

There are a number of other good excuses to appeal against private parking tickets, such as:

  1. You entered a digit incorrectly when typing in your registration number. As per the law, you must be forgiven for this as it is a small error and you did pay. 
  2. Your car broke down and you were waiting for help
  3. You were not able to get back to your vehicle in time because of an emergency situation
  4. They sent you the private parking ticket too late (more on this later!)
  5. The method of payment in the car park was out of order

These are not the only excuses that could get you out of having to pay a private parking fine. And they are not always guaranteed to be accepted either. 

My Parking Charge Notice appeal was rejected – what now?

If your formal appeal was rejected by the parking firm, you can escalate your appeal to an independent appeals service. Parking operators will use a specific independent appeals service to assess your case, so you should ask the parking operator for the next steps. 

The parking operator has to be registered with an Accredited Trade Association (ATA) so they can cater to independent appeals. It is the ATA that decides which independent tribunal is used when appeals are escalated this far. 

If the parking operator is a member of the British Parking Association, the motorist will use the Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA) service to review the appeal, which is free for the motorist and recently made available in Scotland. 

And if the company is a member of the International Parking Community, the motorist will use the Independent Appeals Serice (AIS). 

The formal appeals process is similar but not identical to appealing against a Penalty Charge Notice. 

Private parking tickets time limit

Private parking tickets must be issued in good time or you could use a delay to appeal against the fine. If private companies notify you of the parking breach before you leave the car park, they have around 2-6 more months to send you the official Parking Charge Notice. However, you’ll have probably already received it in person. 

Sometimes private companies use cameras to identify motorists not paying for parking and do not physically hand motorists their Parking Charge Notices. Instead, they have to send them in the post, which may require the private operator to contact the DVLA for your address. Private firms must request your address and send the fine within 14 days of the supposed breach of their parking rules.  

The car park owner can have longer to issue parking tickets if the DVLA has not provided the information in good time. 

Multiple debts? Consider debt advice and a debt solution

If you’re struggling to pay a parking fine debt because of your personal finances, or if you have multiple outstanding debts, you should get free debt advice from a UK debt charity. 

These advisers can provide a personalised and confidential assessment of your finances and recommend a debt solution that will help you gradually get out of debt without entering into financial hardship. 

They may recommend one of many debt solutions, such as a Debt Management Plan (DMP) that could reduce monthly payments, or even a Debt Relief Order (DRO) that could write off all of your debt after one year. 

Can you ignore private parking charges? (Let’s recap)

You should not ignore private parking tickets. If you believe you have received unfair parking tickets, you should appeal against them rather than ignore them. Ignoring these fines could result in County Court action and even go as far as bailiffs. 


Parking ticket Frequently Asked Questions

What is the British Parking Association (BPA)?

Many car park operators are a member of a trade body called the British Parking Association (BPA). Members of the BPA use the POPLA service to independently review appeals against private parking tickets. 

What is the International Parking Community (IPC)?

The International Parking Community (IPC) is another trade body that private parking companies can join. If they are a member of this body, any independent appeal from a motorist is provided through the Independent Appeals Service (IAS). 

What is a Fixed Penalty Notice?

A Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) is neither a private parking fine nor a council parking ticket. It is issued by the police for more serious traffic offences, such as speed or driving under the influence. It is dealt with by the Magistrates’ Court and can result in points being added to your license. They can also be issued by the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). 

Should you ignore a Penalty Charge Notice?

Just how you should not ignore a private parking fine, you shouldn’t ignore a Penalty Charge Notice either. Ignoring a Penalty Charge Notice can result in the fine increasing by 50%. You’ll get another 14 days to pay this bigger fine in full, and if you don’t, the local council can get a court order forcing you to pay.

If you do not pay the charge notice (PCN) after a court order has been issued, the local authority can request the right to use enforcement agents, also known as bailiffs. These people will provide another opportunity for you to pay (plus their bailiff fees!) or they will attempt to seize control of your goods to clear the money owed. 

How do you pay a Penalty Charge Notice?

You have 28 days to pay a Penalty Charge Notice. Paying within 14 days can get you a discounted rate so you won’t have to pay the full fine. In many cases, this discounted rate is much less than what the fine would otherwise be – as much as 50% less!

The Penalty Charge Notice should state all the different payment methods accepted. The most popular way of clearing the fine is by paying online. To do this your council must offer a payment portal for PCNs via their website. London for Transport also offers this. 

When you reach the payment portal, you’ll first need to locate your fine. You can do this by entering your vehicle registration number and PCN number, and then making the payment with a debit or credit card. Alternatively, you can probably pay over the phone, but you’ll still need your details and you’ll probably need to be the registered vehicle owner. 

What is a PCN number?

A PCN number is a reference that uniquely identifies the fine attached to your vehicle and the parking offence committed. It usually starts with two letters and is located at the top of your PCN document. If you received a PCN from Transport to London, the PCN reference number is located at the top right corner of the notice above the image of the vehicle. 

Can you appeal a Penalty Charge Notice?

Penalty Charge Notices, like Parking Charge Notices, can be contested. The appeal must be submitted within 28 days of receiving the fine. You must make a formal appeal against the charge notice (PCN) in any situation except if you were left the fine on your vehicle. In this situation, you must first make an informal appeal, and if rejected, you can go on to make a formal appeal.

If the council or Transport for London rejects your representation, you have a legal right to take your appeal to an independent tribunal. The tribunal you use depends on the location of the incident. There are different tribunals for:

  1. Inside of London
  2. Outside of London but in England or Wales
  3. Scotland
  4. Northern Ireland

What is the Penalty Charge Notice time limit?

The Penalty Charge Notice time limit is a time restriction stating how long a council or transport organisation has to serve you with the fine. Penalty Charge Notices must be served to you within 28 days of the day you were deemed to have committed a parking offence. 

If the local council has to contact the DVLA to get your address so they can send the charge notice (PCN) to you, they must do this within the first 14 days after the supposed parking offence. The council can extend how long they have to serve you with a Penalty Charge Notice if the DVLA are too slow to respond to their request. 

The extension can be lengthy and as long as six months. However, overly long delays may be good grounds to challenge a parking ticket.  

Are parking fines legally enforceable?

Despite Parking Charge Notices not being “real fines”, they can become legally enforceable if private companies take you to court and win a CCJ against you. 

Can I ignore a Euro Car Parks fine?

Euro Car Parks is one of the biggest car parking brands with car parks in all corners of the UK. You should not ignore any private parking tickets from the company because they could take you to court and get a CCJ against you. 

Some people have ignored Euro Car park fines and have not been chased to a civil court. But that doesn’t mean you’ll also get away with it. Is it a risk worth taking?

Parking Charge Notice – Ignore or pay? (Quick roundup)

Parking Charge Notices are not “real fines” because you have not broken a law. Rather, you have broken a contract with the parking operator by entering their property and not abiding by their rules. Although you may be able to ignore the fine and get away without paying, doing so could also result in a CCJ and bailiffs. So it is still best to pay these fines. 

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 fighting a parking ticket in the UK?

Want to equip yourself with more information to take on parking tickets? We have plenty more information for the UK’s motorist at MoneyNerd. Check out our latest parking ticket guides and posts soon!