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Penalty Charge Notice or Parking Charge Notice – What’s the difference?

HomeCouncil FinesPenalty Charge Notice or Parking Charge Notice – What’s the difference?
penalty charge notice or parking charge notice whats the difference

What’s the difference between a Penalty Charge Notice and Parking Charge Noice. We compare these two parking tickets so you understand the differences and what you can do. 

Whether you received a Penalty Charge Notice or Parking Charge Notice, this guide is written to 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 with 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 Penalty Charge Notice?

A Penalty Charge Notice is a fine from a local council or a transport authority, such as Transport for London. These fines can be left on your vehicle or sent to the registered vehicle opener in the post. 

The amount you are fined depends on the alleged contravention and can also differ by location. However, you can get 50% off the fine by paying it within the first 14 days. 

What is a Penalty Charge Notice for?

Penalty Charge Notices can be served to motorists for a range of reasons. The most common reasons for receiving a Penalty Charge Notice are parking contraventions on public land or minor driving offences. 

The type of driving offences that could result in a Penalty Charge Notice include driving in a bus lane at times when it’s not permitted, or turning right or left from a junction when it’s not allowed. 

As mentioned, you can also be issued a Penalty Charge Notice from a transport group. Common reasons why you would receive these fines from a transport group include not paying the London Congestion Charge or the Dartford Crossing Charge by the deadline.

What is a Parking Charge Notice?

A Parking Charge Notice is a notice from a company stating that you owe them money because you broke the terms and conditions of using their car park, i.e. to pay for the correct amount of parking. 

These fines can be left on your vehicle, but as motorists are usually caught on camera, they are more often sent to the vehicle owner in the post.

The rules are changing on how much a private company can charge you when issuing a Parking Charge Notice. The cap on the amount you can be charged is being decreased to £50 in most cases (but not all!). The law changes are expected to come into force at some point in 2023. 

What is a Parking Charge Notice for?

A Parking Charge Notice is exclusively issued for alleged parking contraventions on privately-owned land. 

Car park management companies will often manage car parks for private landowners and businesses, such as gyms and supermarkets. They oversee all aspects of the legal operation of the car park using staff, technologies and cameras. 

If the car park management company identifies a motorist who hasn’t paid for parking or has overstayed their paid-for parking, they can send a Parking Charge Notice to the registered vehicle keeper’s address.

However, as we will discuss below, these parking fines aren’t real fines. 

What is the difference between a Penalty Charge Notice and a Parking Charge Notice?

The main difference between a Penalty Charge Notice and a Parking Charge Notice is that the former is a real fine from a local authority and the latter is a type of invoice from a private company. 

Here is a breakdown of the key differences between a Penalty Charge Notice and a Parking Charge Notice:

  1. They are issued by different groups
  2. Only a Penalty Charge Notice is considered a real fine
  3. Penalty Charge Notices aren’t just for parking contraventions
  4. Penalty Charge Notice enforcement is more stringent and effective at recovering the money (see sections below)

There are also some similarities. For example, both can be appealed and appeals can be escalated when the initial appeal is rejected. And both local authorities and private companies must offer a discounted fine if the motorist agrees to pay within 14 days.

You might be wondering why they both sound so similar. It’s believed that Parking Charge Notices have been purposely made to sound like Penalty Charge Notices. 

Because private companies know their parking fines aren’t genuine fines, they have decided to make them sound similar and confuse some motorists into thinking they’ve received a Penalty Charge Notice. 

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

If you don’t pay or appeal your Penalty Charge Notice within 28 days, the council will send a charge certificate that increases your fine by 50%. You must pay this increased fine within 14 days or the council will ask for a court order to make you pay.

If you continue to avoid paying, the council could enforce the debt in different ways. One common method is for the council to use bailiffs. These bailiffs will come to your home to recover payment or seize goods to then be sold. They also charge expensive fees that are added to your debt. 

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

The process of chasing a Parking Charge Notice is less stringent. The company could chase you themselves or they could outsource the process to a debt collection agency. These debt collection groups don’t have any additional legal powers and they’re not bailiffs.

They could then:

  1. Send payment requests via letter, texts and calls
  2. Add late fees to the debt
  3. Threaten legal action
  4. Take you to court and win a court order
  5. Enforce the debt by employing bailiffs

Some companies will stop at stage 3 and not actually take you to court, allowing you to get away without paying. But this is high risk because many companies will take you to court, even for smaller amounts.

Is a Fixed Penalty Notice the same as a PCN?

Fixed Penalty Notices are issued by the police for motorist offences such as dangerous driving or speeding. They are not the same as a Penalty Charge Notice. Receiving an FPN could lead to more significant fines, penalty points on your license, court action and even a driving ban. 

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.

GET STARTED

Penalty Charge Notice Vs Parking Charge Notice (Quick recap)

Penalty Charge Notices are real fines from local authorities and transport groups, whereas a Parking Charge Notice is considered an invoice from a private company.

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