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Private Parking Fines Scotland

In Scotland, private parking fines can be either paid directly or contested through an appeal, depending on the circumstances of the issuance. Dive in to discover more about this process...
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Have you received a private parking fine in Scotland and need some help? This is the place for you. Every month, more than 130,000 people visit our website for guidance on parking fines and tickets.

In this article, we’ll explain:

  •  How private parking fines work in Scotland.
  •  If you are required to pay these fines.
  •  The steps to take if you want to challenge a fine.
  •  Who operates private car parks.
  •  Useful tips to avoid getting a private parking fine.

We know that getting a parking fine can be a big worry. But remember, you’re not alone. We’ve got plenty of helpful advice and real-life examples to guide you through.

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

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Can you be fined for parking in private car parks?

You might be issued a private parking ticket from a car park operator if you park in a private car park without paying or without paying the right amount, i.e. overstaying or some other private parking violations.

You can also be issued a private parking fine from these companies if you don’t park correctly within the private car park, such as not using a bay.

There have been incidents where motorists have received a ticket because their wheel was just outside of the bay, which can seem harsh. 

What is a private car park operator?

Car park management companies work on behalf of other businesses to manage private car parks such as retail parks

The car park company isn’t typically the owner of the land or the car park. 

Private car park operators often install cameras and signage for free to ensure the legal and safe operation of the car park.

This is provided in return for any money raised from issuing Parking Charge Notices (PCNs).

What is a Parking Charge Notice (PCN)?

A Parking Charge Notice is the official name of private parking fines. 

It’s thought that private parking infringement notices were named Parking Charge Notices to confuse motorists.

It was done to make them believe the fine is the same as a council parking fine called a Penalty Charge Notice – also PCN.

A Parking Charge Notice is issued by the car park operator when they spot a parking contravention in one of the car parks they manage.

This mostly happens through specialist CCTV, but on-site wardens might also spot a parking contravention themselves.

More on Private Parking Fines in Scotland

There are many private parking companies in Scotland.

There are companies operating scores of car parks, and smaller companies that operate just a handful of sites. 

I have been writing about specific Scottish car park operators you might have to deal with.

Read these individual guides for more personalised support dealing with a Parking Charge Notice. 

» TAKE ACTION NOW: Get legal support from JustAnswer

How much is a parking ticket in Scotland?

Private parking tickets in Scotland cannot exceed £100 without justification.

It means car park operators can’t charge more than £100.

However, they also must offer a 40% discount if you pay within 14 days. So the cost could be £60 if you’re quick to pay.

Discount for early payment of parking fines is an incentive to get you to pay.

There have been plans to reduce private parking tickets in Scotland and the rest of the UK to a maximum of £50.

However, nothing has been 100% finalised just yet. (June 2023)

Case study: Fined for overstaying the free time limit

I’ve included a message posted by a motorist who received a parking charge notice for overstaying the free time limit in a private car park.

Source: Moneysavingexpert

How do private operators know who I am?

Private parking operators use Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) or parking attendants to monitor their car parks.

If you violate the terms of using a car park, an attendant could take a photo of the car registration or it could be recorded using ANPR.

A Parking Charge Notice can be placed on your windscreen, or they could send it to you in the post.

However, to access your contact details an operator must be in the Approved Operator Scheme (AOS).

The DVLA operates this scheme which lets accredited members access the details of a registered vehicle keeper to send out the parking ticket.

Note: Operators must be a British Parking Association or International Parking Community member to be part of the AOS.

Non-members don’t have access to DVLA’s involvement in providing contact information,

Are private parking tickets enforceable in Scotland?

Private parking fines can only be enforced if the car park operator takes you to court and a judge orders you to pay. 

The necessity of court orders to enforce fines on private land in Scotland is required.

Do I legally have to pay private parking fines?

Technically, you aren’t legally obligated to pay without the matter going to court first.

But you might want to pay before an escalation if you accept the parking fine and wish to avoid the stress of litigation.

This is best understood by knowing a little about contract law and private parking notices.

Private parking notices fall under contract law

When you park on private land, you enter into a contract with the landowner or operator.

However, you must know the terms and conditions for using a car park for the contract to be valid.

Signs must be erected indicating the T&Cs for parking on private land.

In short, an operator must offer them so you can accept their terms as you drive into a car park on private land.

Private parking companies and landowners must display the parking signs at a height motorists can clearly see to read the parking rules.

Plus the typeface must be readable.

The terms must include what happens when you don’t follow the rules and the cost of parking.

Note: It’s up to you as the motorist to look for these signs.

If a car park operator hasn’t provided you with the terms and conditions before parking, the parking ticket is unlikely to be enforced by the court

Understanding the Code of Practice for Private Parking in Scotland

Private car park management companies and landowners are not subject to the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 or the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.

As such, it’s up to private companies to lawfully manage their sites.

Many private car park management companies are members of:

Each association operates a strict code of practice which lays out how members should manage their sites.

This includes erecting clear signage at entrances and ensuring road markings are clearly visible.

The signage must display the Terms and Conditions for using a car park and the cost of penalties for failing to follow the rules.

Can I ignore a parking ticket from a private company in Scotland?

Ignoring a parking ticket from a parking company in Scotland is risky.

You risk legal action for non-payment because the matter could escalate to court and you could be made to pay – and possibly have to pay more

There is a chance that you won’t be taken to court and you won’t ever be forced to pay.

However, lots of car parking operators do take people to court, even for smaller fines

Challenging Terms and Conditions

A Parking Charge Notice is designed to look like an official Penalty Charge Notice. However, they are not the same at all.

To clarify, a Parking Charge Notice is an invoice that falls under Contractual Law.

In short, under the Consumer Rights Act, you can challenge the Terms and Conditions provided by a private operator.

If the T&Cs are unfair or they aren’t ‘transparent’ and easily visible, you can challenge part of the contract.

This includes:

  • Anything that attempts to restrict your legal rights
  • Overcharging and its impact on contract validity
  • Unfair Terms and Conditions in private parking contracts

What happens if you don’t pay a parking ticket in Scotland?

Different scenarios could play out when you don’t pay a parking ticket in Scotland.

Unlike council parking fines, the process isn’t as certain with private parking tickets.

Outcomes of non-payment for private parking fines in Scotland could include an operator doing the following;

  1. Keep chasing you themselves while threatening legal action
  2. Ask a debt collection agency to chase you for payment and make legal threats
  3. Go ahead with legal action and take you to court to ask for a court order to make you pay
  4. Give up and stop chasing you, and they may later resume any of the above

Will bailiffs show up at my door for not paying a parking fine in Scotland?

Bailiffs can only be used to make you pay a Parking Charge Notice in Scotland when a court has already told you to pay and you haven’t.

Plus, in Scotland, bailiffs are known as Sheriff Officers.

When this happens, the car parking company can ask the court to allow them to enforce the debt, and one of the ways to do this is to use Sheriff Officers (bailiffs).

You don’t have to let them in when they come to your door, but they can enter your home through open or unlocked doors.

It’s better to avoid this situation as Sheriff Officers charge debt collection fees that are more expensive than parking fines.

The fees are added to your debt. 

Sheriff Officers mightn’t be the only way the company tries to enforce the debt.

They could ask for a charge to be placed on a property you own, or try to have money taken directly from your wages via the court. 

Common Issues and Disputes with Private Parking Fines

Various reasons could lead to a dispute over a private parking ticket.

I’ve listed some of them here:

  • The Parking Charge Notice arrived in the post more than 14 days after the parking offence allegedly took place
  • You parked your vehicle correctly
  • The parking signs or road markings were not clearly visible, missing or unclear
  • There was no way for you to pay
  • You were overcharged
  • You weren’t the driver when the ticket was issued
  • You couldn’t return to your car for a valid reason
  • Your vehicle had broken down
  • You were only just out of time before the ticket was issued

Can I appeal a parking ticket in Scotland?

Yes, you have a right to appeal a parking fine in Scotland.

Your appeal must be made within 28 days of the alleged parking violation

The appeals procedure will be explained on your PCN.

It usually involves submitting a written appeal and evidence online or sending your appeal to the company’s address.

Always keep copies of your appeal and evidence of posting.

The company has 56 days to respond to the appeal or you automatically win the appeal.

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.

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What happens if I appeal a parking ticket in Scotland and lose?

If you make a private parking ticket appeal in Scotland and lose, you can escalate the appeal for a second decision.

The escalated appeal will be looked at by an independent tribunal which has the authority to override the car park operator’s decision. 

This could be to POPLA or the IAS depending on which association the car park management company is a member of.

Private parking firms must explain how to escalate an appeal when they send you an appeal rejection notice. 

Private parking fines ignore Scotland or pay?

It’s never a good idea to ignore private parking tickets.

The fine may not be immediately enforceable, but the operator could take you to court and win.

When this happens, you’d have not choice but to pay considerably more than the original fine.

Plus, you’d have missed out on paying a discounted amount if you’d paid the Parking Charge Notice early.

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

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Private Parking Fines in Scotland FAQs

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