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POPLA Appeal 2022 – Everything You Need to Know

popla appeal

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

Read our informative guide before you make a POPLA appeal this year. We’ve covered all bases to help you prepare an effective POPLA appeal and prevent you from missing any deadlines. 

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What is a Parking Charge Notice?

A Parking Charge Notice is the name for a parking fine that is issued by a private landowner or private car parking operator. Since a historic legal battle between one private car park operator and an unhappy motorist (Parking Eye Vs Beavis), these fines are allowed to be issued as long as the car park adheres to specific rules about signage etc. 

Although they are called private parking fines, they aren’t classified as “real fines”. They should be treated more like an invoice from private businesses. However, this doesn’t mean they can be ignored. The car park operator could take legal action if you don’t pay. Whether they will or not is a different story. 

Don’t confuse Parking Charge Notices with Penalty Charge Notices. The latter refers to council fines which can be served for parking contraventions on council land. They shouldn’t be handled or appealed against in the same way.

How much is a Parking Charge Notice?

New government rules prevent private parking companies and landowners from charging more than £50 for a parking ticket or £70 for more serious breaches. The only exception is within London, where the cap is set slightly higher at £80. 

Moreover, the car park operator must offer at least a 40% discount to motorists who pay the private parking ticket within the first two weeks, which means fines outside of London can be just £30. 

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Can you appeal a Parking Charge Notice?

You can appeal a Parking Charge Notice as long as you submit your appeal within 28 days of the supposed parking offence. Appeals cannot be made after this time.  

How do you appeal a Parking Charge Notice?

Your initial Parking Charge Notice appeal must be made in writing to the parking company that issued you the parking ticket. As mentioned, this must be done within 28 days. Nowadays it can usually be submitted on the company’s website, otherwise, it must be submitted in a letter. 

The appeal, which is also known as a representation, must state the reason you disagree with the parking fine. It should be accompanied by applicable evidence. For example, if you broke down, you may need to include a report or invoice from a mechanic.

Escalating a Parking Charge Notice appeal

If the private parking company rejects your appeal, they will tell you in writing. However, you can escalate a rejected PCN appeal to an independent tribunal or independent body. POPLA is one of the groups which can take a second look at your appeal and could overturn the parking company’s decision. 

What is POPLA?

Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA) is an independent service for UK motorists who want to appeal a private parking ticket, i.e. a Parking Charge Notice. It cannot be used to appeal against council parking tickets. 

Who can use POPLA appeals?

Motorists can only use the POPLA appeal service if they have already had an appeal rejected by the company that issued the Parking Charge Notice. Moreover, the company must be a member of the British Parking Association (BPA).

Some private car park operators are members of a different ATA, namely the International Parking Community (IPC). If the company that issues you a private parking fine is a member of the IPC, you cannot use the POPLA appeal service. Instead, you must use the Independent Appeals Service to escalate your parking ticket appeal. 

Some companies aren’t a member of any ATA. In these cases, they cannot ask the DVLA for your address. So they can only send you the fine by collecting your address from other means, which might not be legal. For this reason, it’s important to never contact a car park operator that isn’t an ATA member first.

When can you make a POPLA appeal?

Your POPLA appeal must be made within 21 days after your initial appeal to the BPA car park operator was rejected. You will not be able to lodge an appeal to POPLA after 21 days have passed since your first appeal was rejected. 

This is a slightly different timeframe compared to using the Independent Appeals Service, which is only used to escalate appeals against companies that are members of the IPC. You also have 21 days to escalate the appeal for free. But if you pay a £15 fee, you can still escalate the appeal to the Independent Appeals Service up to one year after your first appeal was rejected. 

Is POPLA truly independent?

POPLA is an independent body and does not give preferential treatment to the car park operator or the motorist. POPLA judges each case on its own merits to make impartial decisions. 

POPLA is funded by the British Parking Association but the BPA doesn’t have any power over the outcome of each appeal. It is overseen by the Financial Ombudsman. 

Is a POPLA appeal free?

Using the POPLA service is 100% free of charge. However, if you lose your appeal you will have to pay the fine to the parking company. 

POPLA appeal process

The POPLA appeal process can be split into five stages:

  1. Receive a verification code
  2. Collect your appeal evidence
  3. Submit the appeal
  4. Monitor the appeal
  5. Receive a decision 

It’s important to prepare for your POPLA appeal efficiently. When you receive the initial appeal rejection from the car park operator, they should also provide you with a 10-digit verification code. If they haven’t sent you one, ask for this immediately. You will need this code to submit a POPLA appeal. 

You’ll also need some other bits of information to submit your POPLA appeal, namely your car registration number and your Parking Charge Notice reference number. The latter should be located on the top of your Parking Charge Notice letter/fine. 

You’ll also need to prepare by gathering the evidence for your appeal. POPLA states that they prefer evidence in the form of photographs and videos taken from your smartphone, or scanned copies of relevant documents. You may also use a witness statement if applicable. 

Grounds for a POPLA appeal

When lodging your POPLA appeal, you’ll need to select the grounds for your appeal. There are no restrictions on what reasons you can give to make an appeal. But POPLA has named the grounds which are most accepted by their panel and are therefore the most successful. These are:

  • Your vehicle was stolen. You may need a police report or crime reference number
  • You weren’t improperly parked or you did in fact pay
  • The Parking Charge Notice asks for the wrong amount. This may be more likely considering these fines have recently been reduced and not all companies may be adhering to the new laws
  • Extreme circumstances prevented you from parking correctly, such as a broken-down car or a medical emergency
  • Other reasons not listed above

Check the BPA Code of Practice

Car park operators that are members of the British Parking Association (BPA) must abide by the BPA Code of Practice. If the car park operator has issued you a fine without abiding by all aspects of the code, you could use this as grounds for a POPLA appeal.

The code frequently gets updated, which means that car park operators could miss something and not be allowed to fine you. For example, there have been recent changes that prevent tickets from being issued to motorists who enter a car park, decide not to park, and then leave (all within 5 minutes). This is now counted as a non-event and no parking fine can be issued. 

Similarly, car park operators must now give all paying motorists a 10-minute grace period after their allotted parking runs out. They must leave the car park by the end of this additional ten minutes and cannot be fined for taking an extra 9 minutes and 59 seconds to leave. 

What makes a good POPLA appeal?

POPLA states that providing as much detail as possible will make a better appeal. Paint a picture of the whole event, such as why you visited the car park in the first place. The best appeals are accompanied by compelling evidence. 

Can I appeal for someone else?

POPLA allows individuals to make an appeal on behalf of someone else providing they have the authorisation to do so. The person making the appeal will need to explain why they’re appealing for someone else and provide evidence that they have the permission to do so. 

Can you make changes to a POPLA appeal?

You’re not allowed to edit or change your POPLA appeal after submission. Therefore, it’s important to take the time beforehand to prepare your POPLA appeal and include everything you need for it to be successful. 

How long does a POPLA appeal take?

POPLA appeals lodged online will take between six and eight weeks on average. POPLA appeals submitted by post can take a little longer, especially if there are any Royal Mail delays. 

Because POPLA appeals are entirely free, escalating an appeal could also be used as a tactic to buy yourself more time. If you need some additional time to save up for the parking fine, making a free appeal could give you that breathing space. 

After all, you’ll have already lost the chance to pay the discounted fine by making an initial appeal to the car park operator. 

But…

Some car park operators may add further fees due to the delay in payment while the POPLA appeal is processing. You need to be aware of this!

How many POPLA appeals are successful?

A POPLA annual report in 2020 found that 41% of POPLA appeals are accepted, meaning around 4 in 10 motorists get their parking fines cancelled by escalating their appeal. This also suggests that car park companies are wrongfully rejecting 41% of initial appeals. 

Specifically, in 2020 there were 58,522 appeals lodged and POPLA favoured motorists on 23,771 occasions. This means it can be well worth appealing to POPLA, even when the car parking company have said your appeal cannot be accepted. 

POPLA appeal approved

Source

POPLA will write to you to inform you of their decision. If they tell you that your appeal was successful, they will ask the private parking company to cancel the parking ticket and you won’t have to pay anything

What happens if my POPLA appeal fails?

If POPLA refuses your appeal they will write to inform you of their decision. You are then given a further 28 days to pay the car parking company the amount owed. 

If you refuse to pay the fine, the car park operator could take legal action against you. Alternatively, they could pass the fine on to a debt collection agency, which will chase you for payment and also threaten legal action. 

Debt collection agencies aren’t the same as bailiffs. You can still be contacted and asked to pay, but they can’t demand to come to your home, and they certainly can’t seize any of your goods.

It’s impossible to know whether the parking company will take legal action against you. Even for smaller amounts, they may still decide to take you to court. However, sometimes they may not and you could get away without paying. Nevertheless, it’s a big risk to assume the parking company won’t take legal action, as things could get even more expensive for you.  

Can I appeal a POPLA decision? 

You cannot appeal a decision made by POPLA. If you strongly believe that the parking fine shouldn’t stand but have been told to pay, the only remaining option is legal action. However, this could become more costly than the fine itself. You should seek professional legal advice to discuss your options.  

How to contact POPLA

You can speak to someone at POPLA by calling 03301 596 126. Lines are open on weekdays between 9am and 5pm. If you would prefer to send a message instead of calling, you can use the POPLA web contact form instead. 

Further help appealing parking tickets

To avoid using the POPLA appeals service, it’s best to make a successful representation to the parking company. We’ve already discussed everything you need to know about these initial appeals, which can be read for free here

MoneyNerd continues to help motorists fight back effectively against private car park fines!

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