Did you know that over 8 million parking tickets were issued in Britain last year? That equates to approximately 890,000 fines each month and that doesn’t even include those issued by private firms.
According to the Insurance Company Swiftcover only a quarter were ever disputed and even then only 26% were successfully overturned. However it must be noted that other statistics reveal this figure to be much higher, at approximately 60-65%. Either way there are millions of parking tickets that aren’t contested, so we’ve put together a guide to help you through the process.
Never confuse the two types of tickets you can receive. One is known as the Parking Charge Notice (PCN) which is issued by a private firm, the other is known as a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN), issued by a local council. Although the initials are of course identical, never get the pair confused with one another.
PARKING CHARGE NOTICE:
Be sure to remember this is NOT a fine. Unlike a Penalty Charge Notice it cannot be imposed on you. Generally speaking these tickets will be issued on private land, usually if you have over stayed your allocated time. The argument for getting one of these tickets is that you broke the contract between yourself and the car park.
You will then be chased for an amount of money that will redeem the car park owner for any subsequent losses they incurred. In these circumstances, depending on the car park location, the penalty should be rather small as the owner should only pursue losses accumulated as a direct result of your overstay. Naturally in a short stay car park for example, this should be a relatively small amount of money.
Appealing your Ticket:
- If you have a reason to contest the charge don’t be afraid to contact the owner. Call or write to them explaining your case and await their response.
- Is the charge too much in comparison to the length of time you overstayed? For example £50 for 15 minutes? Clearly this is extortionate and you should contact them about the charge. Some people have reported great results when they simply paying what they feel is a fair amount. Perhaps try this if you think you’re liable for a lesser charge.
- Return to the car park and check all signs were clearly visible. It’s their duty to ensure all terms and conditions are easy to read. If there are any issues take photographic evidence and send this to the owners for evaluation.
- If the landowner still proceeds and rejects your claims, you have 28 days to appeal to an independent adjudicator. Please note the 28 day rule applies whether the ticket is issued in person, for example left on your windscreen, or received via the post. If you would like to appeal do so via Popla who are the department of Parking on Private Land Appeals.
- It’s well worth sending an appeal to Popla as doing so won’t incur any additional charges for yourself. If they agree with you the charges will be dropped, but if refused the company are free to chase you for the original sum. Please note at this stage if you fail to pay they may eventually take you to a small claims court.
- If you choose to pay the full amount the do so within the first two weeks. The company in question must offer you a discount of 40% or more if you do so.
What happens if I don’t pay and ignore the charge?
Inevitably the firm will send letters insisting that you pay them a certain amount of money. Be aware that some firms will use debt collection agencies on their behalf, however this doesn’t change a thing from your perspective. Eventually you will be threatened with legal action and could be taken to court if the firm pursues it to this stage. Of course if you take the matter to court and lose, you could be liable to pay legal costs and further compensation.
The good news is none of this will effect your credit rating unless you fail to pay the charge after loosing in the courtroom.
Make sure the parking Firm is part of a ‘Trade Body’
- If they aren’t do not write to them and do not pay the charge. Not being a member of the accredited trade association means they cannot access your details via the DVLA. This therefore means they cannot in fact send out the charge.
- Unfortunately however if they do obtain your address through some other means they can in fact chase you through the courts. Amazingly anybody can issue parking charges and do exactly this. Our advice at this stage is to simply follow the steps in our ‘appealing your ticket section’.
PENALTY CHARGE NOTICE (PCN)
- If you agree to pay the fine, do so within the first two weeks (14 days). This will reduce the fine by half.
- If you are going to appeal the fine, gather as much evidence as possible straight away. Take photographs of the car park or the ticket machine if it was not working correctly. If the signs were unclear be sure to document this straight away.
- If your car was stolen get a crime number before you appeal. If there are mitigating circumstances be sure to gather as much evidence and supporting documents as possible. If somebody was with you and can help your argument, get a witness statement.
- Now write off to your local council arguing your case and why you are appealing the fine. Be sure to include ALL the evidence you have collected and supply your car registration number, address and ticket number (PCN). If the council believes you have a strong case it can actually cancel the fine immediately, which obviously means you won’t have to pay a penny.
- If the council rejects your reason for appeal you will be sent a rejection letter. At this point if you believe your case is still strong, DON’T give up. According to Martin Lewis from moneysavingexpert.com, around half the cases that reach the final appeal stage are successful.
- At this point you will have 28 days to formally appeal against your fine. Of course by now the chance will have passed to pay the original ticket early and receive the 50% discount. It will now be down to an independent adjudicator to decide the outcome and how much of a fine will be imposed.
Grounds For Appealing Against Your Ticket
- The ‘offence’ never occurred and no ticket was actually issued, or there were no signs or markings.
- The fine or penalty is unjustifiably high in relation to the original fee.
- You received a ticket via the post because a traffic warden warden claims they were blocked from issuing a ticket…..but this didn’t actually take place.
- You weren’t the owner of the car at the time of the offence or the car had been stolen.
- The ticket didn’t contain all the information relating to the offence. For example times and dates.
- The violation is invalid because new restrictions that led to the ticket were enforced without the council following correct procedures.
- The ticket has already been settled (paid).
- The car had broken down or there were other mitigating circumstances.