A Comprehensive Guide on How to Appeal Against a Private Parking Fine
If you are asking the question ‘Should I Pay My Parking Fine, or wondering if you should pay your parking fine? Then please read on.
As a driver, receiving a parking fine, whether on private or council land, can be frustrating, and you may feel helpless. However, you do have the right to appeal against the fine, and in most cases, you might have a chance of winning the appeal. This guide will provide you with all the necessary information on how to appeal against a private parking fine or a council parking fine.
Should You Pay Your Parking Ticket?
Many people wonder whether they should pay their parking ticket or fight it. The answer depends on several factors, including the reason for the ticket, the cost of the fine, and the likelihood of success in an appeal.
If you believe that you were wrongly ticketed, or if the ticket was issued unfairly, it’s worth considering an appeal. However, if you simply parked in the wrong place or overstayed your welcome, it may be easier to simply pay the fine and move on.
Private Parking Fines Vs Council Parking Fines
Before delving into how to appeal against a private parking fine, it’s essential to understand the difference between private parking fines and council parking fines. Council parking fines are “official” fines issued by a local council or the police and are usually listed as penalty charge notices. On the other hand, private parking fines are issued by the landowner and are not considered official fines.
Parking Tickets: What Are My Rights?
When it comes to parking tickets, you have certain rights that you should be aware of. These include:
The right to appeal: You have the right to appeal a parking ticket if you believe that it was issued unfairly or in error.
The right to a fair hearing: If you decide to appeal your parking ticket, you have the right to a fair hearing where you can present your case.
The right to due process: You have the right to due process, which means that the parking authority must follow certain procedures when issuing and enforcing parking tickets.
The right to privacy: You have the right to privacy, which means that the parking authority cannot share your personal information without your consent.
Reasons to Appeal Your Parking Ticket
There are several reasons why you may be able to appeal your parking ticket. Let’s explore some of the most common reasons in more detail.
You Were Parked Correctly
If you believe that you were parked correctly and that the parking attendant made a mistake, you may be able to appeal your ticket. For example, if you received a ticket for parking in a loading zone, but you were actually parked legally, you should appeal the ticket.
By law, a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) or Excess Charge Notice (ECN) from the council – issued on public land, such as a high street – must be cancelled if you didn’t break the parking rules. You can check these rules on GOV.UK or on signs near where you parked.
When you park on private land, such as a supermarket car park, the parking rules (the terms and conditions of using the car park) should be made clear on nearby signs. If you’re given a Parking Charge Notice and can prove you stuck to these rules, your ticket should be cancelled. This is because the parking company can’t argue that you didn’t stick to their terms and conditions.
When you appeal, you should explain that you didn’t break any parking rules and send evidence to prove this. For example, if you were parked in a loading zone, but there was no sign indicating that the zone was active at the time, you should take a photo of the area and include it in your appeal.
The Parking Signs or Road Markings Were Unclear
If the parking signs or road markings were unclear, you may be able to appeal your ticket. All car parks and roads with parking restrictions must have signs or road markings that make this clear. If you can prove that the signs were confusing or misleading, or that there weren’t any signs saying parking was suspended, you should appeal your ticket.
You should also win your appeal if you were sent a ticket in the post and there weren’t signs saying CCTV – or an automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) system – was in use where you parked.
When you appeal, provide evidence to prove that the signs or markings were unclear. For example, take photos of the area and the signs to show that they were difficult to read or were hidden by trees.
There Was No Way to Pay
If you were unable to pay for parking because the machine or meter was broken, you may be able to appeal your ticket. However, if there was another machine you could have used, your appeal is less likely to be successful.
To appeal your ticket, you’ll need to provide evidence that the machine or meter was broken. For example, take a photo of the machine with an “out of order” sign on it. If there was no sign indicating that the machine was broken, your appeal is less likely to be successful.
You Were Charged Too Much
If you believe that you were charged too much for your ticket, you should appeal it. You may be able to reduce the amount you owe or get the ticket cancelled altogether.
If you received a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN), the amount you’re charged will fall into a higher or lower band. You’ll be charged the higher band for a more serious offence, like parking on a double yellow line. The lower band is for something less serious, like parking for longer than your ticket allows.
You should appeal if you’ve been charged too much for a PCN. For example, if your offence should be in the lower band but you’ve been charged the higher band amount. You can find out how much a council charges for each band on their website.
If you’ve been given a Parking Charge Notice, the BPA and IPC rules state you shouldn’t be charged more than £100 – unless the parking company can prove your parking offence made them lose this much money. You should appeal if you’ve been charged more than £100 and think this extra cost is unjustified.
You Weren’t Driving When the Ticket Was Issued
If you weren’t driving when the ticket was issued, you should appeal it. For example, if you lent your car to a friend who received a ticket, you should appeal the ticket.
To appeal the ticket, you’ll need to provide evidence that you weren’t driving at the time. For example, if you have a receipt showing that you were at work when the ticket was issued, include it in your appeal.
You Couldn’t Get Back to Your Car
If you were unable to get back to your car because of a disability, pregnancy, or young child, you should appeal your ticket. The Equality Act 2010 means you must be treated with understanding and can’t be discriminated against, so the ticket should be cancelled.
To appeal the ticket, provide evidence that you have a disability, are pregnant, or have a young child. For example, include a letter from your doctor or a photo of your child’s car seat.
Your Car Broke Down
If you received a ticket while waiting for your car to be fixed or towed away, you should appeal it. The ticket issuer should understand that you couldn’t move your car.
To appeal the ticket, include evidence that your car was being towed or repaired at the time. For example, include a receipt from the tow truck company or the garage where your car was being repaired.
You Were Only Just Out of Time
If you were only a few minutes late returning to your car, you should appeal your ticket. Parking regulations usually allow for a “grace period” of a few minutes before a ticket can be issued. ATA members must give you an extra 10 minutes before giving you a Parking Charge Notice – as should the council before giving you a Penalty Charge Notice. You should also be given a reasonable amount of time to leave a car park if you decide not to park.
To appeal your ticket, explain that you were only a few minutes late and that you were still within the grace period. Provide evidence if possible, such as a photo of the time on your parking receipt.
How to Gather Evidence to Challenge a Private Parking Fine
If you receive a private parking ticket and you feel that it’s unfair, you can appeal against it. But before you do so, you need to gather evidence to support your appeal. The first step is to take pictures of the parking signage, especially if it’s unclear or obscured. If the signage is not visible or is hard to read, you might have grounds for an appeal.
Additionally, take pictures of the parking area, showing your car’s position and any other relevant details. For instance, if the parking machine was out of order or malfunctioning, take a picture of it. Also, if you have any witnesses, take their details, and ask them to write down what they saw.
Should You Pay the Council Parking Fine?
If you are disputing the parking fine, you might be wondering whether you should pay it. The official guidance advises against paying the fine if you are disputing it, as this might be considered an admission of guilt. However, if you don’t pay the fine, it might increase, and you might face legal action.
If you decide not to pay the fine, notify the private parking company that you intend to appeal the ticket and ask them to suspend any action or increase in fees while the matter is investigated. If the business refuses, ask them to confirm this in writing. Alternatively, you can pay the fine under duress, stating in writing that you are paying the ticket to prevent further charges, but you are still disputing it.
How to Appeal Against a Private Parking Fine
If you decide to appeal against a private parking fine, there are several steps you need to follow. Firstly, contact the parking company and notify them that you intend to dispute the penalty. Check if the company is a member of a trade body, such as the British Parking Association or the International Parking Community.
Next, go through the parking company’s complaints procedure and make a formal complaint, explaining why you disagree with the ticket and providing the evidence you have gathered. The parking company should respond within 14 days, and you have 28 days to appeal against the fine.
If the parking company does not respond or rejects your appeal, you can take the matter further by contacting an independent appeals service. For British Parking Association members, the appeals service is POPLA, while for International Parking Community members, the appeals service is the Independent Appeals Service.
Appealing Against Council Parking Fines
If you receive a council parking fine, you can appeal against it by following a similar process to that of private parking fines. Gather evidence to support your appeal, such as pictures of the parking area and signage. Check the excess charge notice or fixed penalty notice for instructions on how to appeal.
Council parking fines can be appealed against on many of the same grounds as private parking fines, such as unclear signage or traffic warden errors. If you receive a ticket through the post, write down what you can recall about the day the event occurred.
Escalating the Appeal Further
If your appeal is rejected at the parking company or council level, you still have the option to take your complaint to an independent adjudicator. The independent adjudicator can award costs to the council if they feel your complaint is frivolous, so ensure that your appeal is valid and well-supported.
In conclusion, appealing against a private parking fine requires evidence to support your case, notification to the parking company, and a formal appeal. Similarly, appealing against a council parking fine requires evidence, checking the excess charge notice or fixed penalty notice for instructions, and a formal appeal. By following these steps, you can increase your chances of winning an appeal and avoiding paying an unfair parking fine.