Millions of parking tickets are issued each year, and many are successfully appealed; we explain how to go about this
Parking tickets can be issued by councils, police or private companies, with over eight million being issued each year just by private firms.
Not all of those tickets will have been issued in accordance with the rules, with incorrect signage, unclear parking-bay lines or misread parking permits all potentially causing wardens to give out tickets in error.
Should you feel you have been issued a parking ticket in error, you have the right to appeal. This guide will explain how to do that.
Work out what type of parking ticket it is
As mentioned above, parking tickets can be issued by different organisations.
If your ticket is marked Penalty Charge Notice or Excess Charge Notice, it is likely to have come from a local authority.
If the ticket is marked Fixed Penalty Notice, it will have been issued by the police for parking on a road managed by them.
If the ticket is marked as Parking Charge it is likely to have come from a private firm, managing parking on private land.
How to appeal a parking ticket from a council
Parking tickets issued by councils must provide a 50% discount if they are paid within 14 days of being issued (21 days if they are issued through the post rather than being affixed to a vehicle).
If you want to appeal, this discount window should be frozen, meaning as long as you appeal within that timeframe, the discount will be valid if your appeal is unsuccessful.
There are a number of reasons you may wish to appeal a parking ticket from a council. These include:
- Signs or markings indicating the parking rules you are alleged to have broken were missing or unclear.
- Your car had been stolen or you were not the registered keeper/driver when the ticket was issued.
- You parked where you did due to a health emergeycy, or there are other mitigating circumstances such as your car breaking down.
Evidence you may wish to submit includes photographs of any substandard or missing signs, markings, or payment machines; any relevant witness statements, or any evidence of mitigating circumstances.
If you have a valid reason to challenge the ticket, the Government has an online service that will take you through to the correct authority, whereupon you will be led to an online appeals process. Instructions on how to begin an appeal should also be printed on the ticket you receive, with telephone or written methods of communication offered for those who do not wish to use the internet.
You should follow the instructions from the relevant authority on how to appeal, with many councils offering three methods of appeal: formal, informal, or by appealing to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal Adjudicators, or the London Tribunals if the ticket was issued in the Capital.
An informal challenge can be made up to 28 days after the PCN is issued, with the issuing authority investigating the appeal based on the evidence you submit, and the records they hold.
A formal appeal is made after the 28 days have elapsed and you have received a written reminder to pay (known as a Notice to Owner or an Enforcement Notice).
If a formal appeal is rejected you can appeal to adjudicators for review, and their decision is final.
How to appeal a parking ticket from a private company
Appeals against parking tickets from private firms can be made on similar grounds (IE missing signage) as appealing against tickets from councils, but there are additional things to bear in mind.
First, the parking company should be a member of the British Parking Association or the International Parking Community. They may not be breaking the rules by issuing a ticket if they are not, but they may not have the means to enforce any ticket, as the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency requires them to be registered by one of the two associations listed above before they will share personal details with firms providing number plate details.
Any fine issued by a private firm must also be ‘proportionate’. While this is a subjective term, in reality it should mean a fine should be under £100.
The parking firm must also be legitimately representing the landowner – if in doubt, contact the landowner directly.
All details (EG entry and exit times, vehicle registration) must be correct, while you should be excused from a ticket if you made a mistake when entering information on a payment machine or app – although you could still be charged an administration fee of up to £20 if you can prove this. There should also be a 10-minute grace period for vehicles overstaying a parking session.
There is no set route for appealing a private parking ticket as there is with council tickets, but instructions on how to do so should be printed on any ticket.
You should compose an appeals letter or email, setting out the following details:
- Your vehicle registration
- Your name contact details
- The date, time and address of the alleged parking infringement
- The ticket’s reference number
You should also explain why you should not have to pay the ticket, enclosing any evidence to support your appeal, such as photographs of faded parking bay lines, damaged or unclear signage, or evidence you paid for a ticket.
If an appeal is rejected, you can contact the British Parking Association or International Parking Community (whichever the firm is registered with).
Bear in mind that if you do not pay a ticket issued by a private firm, they cannot send debt-collectors after you, but they take you to the Small Claims Court, leaving you to pay their legal bills if they win the case.
How to appeal a parking ticket from the police
Parking tickets are most likely to come from councils or private firms, but in some instances – such as parking on red routes, or areas where parking is managed by them, you may receive a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) from the police.
You should include similar information to that set out in the above advice about councils, following the appeals advice printed on the FPN, contacting the relevant Central Ticket Office to lodge your appeal.
You may not automatically be offered the right to an informal appeal, however. If an informal appeal is allowed and fails, your only recourse is to ask for a hearing in a magistrates court, where your fine will increase by 50% if your appeal is unsuccessful; it is wise to seek legal advice before taking this route.
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