Millions are dished out every year… but more than half of appeals succeed!
Keeping up the fight is more important than ever since the Government temporarily withdrew vital new rules to protect the nation’s 36 million drivers from unfair parking fines.
It’s a devastating blow for the tens of thousands of drivers slapped with obscene charges every year for innocent mistakes.
We explain how to tell a council PCN (Penalty Charge Notice) from a private parking charge, and why those aren’t technically fines, but can be legally pursued, and how to challenge both types of parking ticket.
Deciding how to tackle an unfair parking charge depends on the type of ticket.
Expert Barrie Segal runs consumer champion website appealnow.com
He says: ‘In law there is a vast difference between council parking tickets and private parking tickets.
Many local authorities in their pursuit of parking ticket income act unfairly in dealing with motorists. The behaviour of many private parking companies is even worse.’
Check what is written on the ticket itself. It’s only official if it features the word ‘penalty’.
This means that it has been issued by a local authority and is an official penalty charge notice, or PCN for short. If you think your PCN is wrong, appeal first to the local authority that issued it.
You have 14 days to do this, or 21 days if it was sent in the post.
Include any evidence — such as photos and witness statements, as well as details including your car registration number, PCN number and your contact information.
If you’re unsuccessful at the end of the first stage, there’s usually still an option to pay a fine at a discounted rate of 50 per cent.
But if you’re adamant about taking it further, you have another 28 days to make a free formal appeal. Should this be rejected too, there is another step.
You can refer to an independent tribunal. In London this is the London Tribunals service, in England and Wales it is the Traffic Penalty Tribunal. In Scotland, motorists have 28 days to appeal to the General Regulatory Chamber.
For penalty fines relating specifically to parking, the success rate for appeals to London Tribunals is 51 per cent.
There were 7,496 parking appeals won out of 14,702 decisions made. But nearly three million parking PCN’s were issued in the financial year to 2021.
The success rate for drivers appealing to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal is higher at 64 percent.
There were 4,249 successful appeals out of 6,633 in the financial year to 2021. But a whopping 3.18 million parking PCNs were issued in that time.
If you have received a ticket for parking on private land, the rules are different. In these cases, rogue operators flourish and can exploit drivers’ ignorance of different parking ticket features.
Martyn James says: ‘Private parking fees are tickets — or invoices — not fines. They can be pursued legally though.’
He adds: ‘Some tickets mirror the look, style and even typeface of council tickets quite deliberately so people are confused about their rights.’
Though a parking charge notice has the same initials as a PCN, they aren’t the same.
In the absence of the word ‘penalty’, it’s a private operator ticket, not a council fine. If you identify one of these, it’s important to find out whether the company is part of an accredited trade association.
If it isn’t then do not write to the company unless they write to you. The company can’t access your address from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, so writing to them gives information they didn’t have and a way to hassle you.
If the operator is a trade association member, appeal to the company about your ticket first. You can check if a firm is a member of the British Parking Association at britishparking.co.uk
To give yourself the best chance of overturning an appeal, Mr James suggests ‘turning detective’.
He says: ‘Collect evidence about where you were if the fine is applied to you incorrectly. Mistakes can and do happen, so don’t lose your temper if you get ticketed.
‘Grit your teeth and make detailed notes. Don’t get into fights with parking attendants, just take down their details and use them in the complaint.’