How can I appeal an unfair parking ticket? Part 2
Following on from part 1 on Monday, here’s part two of the ‘old school’ way of appealing a parking ticket. In this part, we’ll talk about the different types of tickets and how to appeal each.
What type of ticket is it – civil, criminal or private?
Can you spot the difference between these two?
If you have any tickets that you’re thinking of appealing, get them out and take a look at what’s written on them. If you have any that look like the one on the right, they're official parking tickets. But, if you have any that look like the one on the left, they've been issued by a private company. And the type of ticket you get will determine what you do next.
Official parking tickets come in two kinds:
Civil Law parking tickets - which are called a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN). These are issued by a Civil Enforcement Officer (a parking warden) or by local councils and Transport for London.
Criminal Law parking tickets - called Excess Charge Notice or Fixed Penalty Notice. These are issued by some councils or police-appointed traffic wardens. The ticket will quote the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 and it will say it is issued by a local authority or police force.
And then there are tickets that are issued by private companies. These are the ones given out in supermarkets and hospital car parks and will have Parking Notice Enclosed, or something similar on them.
Once you know which type of ticket it is, follow the relevant steps below:
Appealing an unfair civil ticket
1) Within 28 days of receiving the ticket, use the online service offered by most councils to appeal. Their contact details should be on the ticket, but if you’re not sure, you can use this service to find out who issued it.
If you don’t want to do this online, simply send a letter to the council instead. Include your address, vehicle registration number, penalty notice number, and details of why you believe the parking ticket was unfair. Include a copy of any evidence you've got to support your case.
2) The next stage is a formal appeal. The council will send you a Notice to Owner form, which you can use to appeal. Send this form off within 28 days of receiving it, and re-attach copies of all of your evidence.
You can do this if:
• you don't win your appeal at the informal stage
• more than 28 days have passed since you were given the ticket
• you received your ticket by post
3) The council has 56 days to respond after receiving your formal appeal, or you will win by default.
4) If you’ve won your appeal, the council will write to let you know – congratulations!
If you have not won your appeal, the council will send you a Notice of Rejection letter, and possibly a Charge certificate. You'll receive a Notice of Appeal form too, which you'll need to send off to avoid paying the amount stated in the Charge letter.
Send the Notice of Appeal form off within 28 days of receipt (calculated from two days after the date on the letter), and send copies of all your evidence again.
5) Now your appeal will be heard by an independent tribunal. You don't usually have to attend this meeting because the process can be done online, over the phone, or by post. If you lose at this stage, you'll have to pay your fine within 28 days, or it’ll be increased by 50%.
Appealing an unfair criminal or police-issued ticket
1) Send an informal appeal letter to the Central Ticket Office where the ticket was issued. See step one above for details of what to include.
2) If your appeal is rejected, you will be sent a Notice to Owner letter. To appeal again, use that form to ask for a hearing at a Magistrates Court. You might want to get legal advice for this, and you'll need to attend the court hearing to argue your case. We should warn you that if you lose, the fine will be increased by 50% and you might have to pay court costs too.
Appealing an unfair privately issued ticket
These kinds of tickets are a little different – they are not fines, they’re invoices asking you to pay for a breach of contract. You see landowners have the right to charge you to park on their property. If you park and pay your fee, you’ve entered into an unwritten contact, which will have certain terms and conditions attached to it. If you break those terms, the landowner is entitled to ask you pay a fee.
If you believe that you’ve been issued one of these tickets unfairly, or you believe that the fee being charged is too high, you should appeal it. To start, follow the guidelines on gathering evidence to back-up your claims, then send the evidence to the parking firm, explaining in detail why the fine is unfair. You’ll find the address and appeals process details on the back of the ticket.
Taking it to a trade body
If an appeal directly to the parking company is unsuccessful, you need to find out if the parking firm is a member of one of the two trade organisations – the Independent Appeal Service (IAS) or Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA). If it is, you can approach the trading body and make an official complaint through their appeals process too.
Include all the evidence you gathered for your appeal to the company that issued the fine and make sure you carefully detail why you think the fine is unfair. If the trade body decides in your favour, the parking company will have to stop chasing you.
If you lose your appeal you can still refuse to pay if you are certain that the ticket was unfair. If the parking company wanted to make you pay now, they’d have to take you to court. Parking fines are usually small amounts so would be dealt with in the small claims courts. If you lost at this stage, you’d have to pay the fine and the court costs too, so that’s worth bearing in mind.
What to do if the parking company is not part of a trade body
If the parking company is not part of a trade body, you simply refuse to pay. After all, as we’ve already mentioned, it’s only an invoice. So you can send the invoice back, with a letter explaining why you’re refusing to pay and including your evidence.
The only way they can make you pay is, again, by taking you to the small claims court. They may do this, or they may just decide it’s not worth it. Either way, you’d have to prepare yourself for that to be a possibility.
Okay, that’s it. We know how frustrating getting a ticket can be, so we hope you've found this guide useful.
If you enjoyed reading this, why not have a look at Warning – Do you know if your car has been recalled?