MOTORISTS RECEIVE more than 8m parking tickets each year from councils and more from private operators, running supermarket car parks or motorways services. Yet only around one in 100 appeal.
Here is Driving’s guide to fighting the charges.
Appealing local authority parking tickets
Has the ticket been issued unfairly?
“People have to ask themselves if they are trying it on or if there is genuinely a problem,” says Caroline Sheppard, chief adjudicator at the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, one of the independent bodies that assesses appeals. “Take a step back and try to be subjective, or talk to your friends to see if you have a case.”
The grounds for appeal
- The driver was parked correctly. This includes cases where the traffic warden made a mistake, the signs or lines were wrong, or the vehicle was entitled to stop ‒ because it was unloading or loading, picking up a passenger, or displaying a valid disabled badge.
- The council is charging more than it is entitled to. In the first instance, authorities are able to charge up to £130 in London and £70 outside the capital, although this is usually discounted by half for early payment.
- The owner of the car did not own the vehicle at the time of the offence.
- The vehicle had been stolen when it was parked.
- The penalty has already been paid.
It is also possible to challenge a ticket on more technical grounds
- Your ticket did not contain all of the required information (vehicle registration number, the time, location and date of the parking offence and the amount of the fine).
- The information on the ticket is incorrect (eg, not your registration number).
- Local authorities are given the authority to levy parking restrictions through bylaws called Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO), which can be obtained from councils. If the local authority has imposed restrictions that are not detailed in the TRO, then the ticket can be challenged.
- The ticket was sent by post and the council is incorrectly claiming that a traffic warden was prevented from putting a ticket on a car.
Authorities will also consider exceptional circumstances ‒ if you were helping somebody involved in an accident, for example.
If your ticket (known as a penalty chargE notice) has been placed on your car or handed to you by a parking warden, then do this immediately before moving your car. If you didn’t see a sign, then use your mobile phone to photograph how far away it was from your car. If the line markings aren’t clear, take some pictures.
If you receive a ticket through the post (most commonly due to a parking offence spotted by CCTV cameras) then any problems may have already been rectified, but it is certainly worth returning to the spot where you received the ticket to see if you can highlight any anomalies
Appeal to the council (first stage)
This is only available if you have received a ticket stuck to your car. Write to your local authority or, if available, appeal online. Set out clearly your grounds for appeal and include copies of your evidence. This is known as an informal appeal.
Tickets usually offer an early payment discount of 50% on your fine if you pay within 14 days. Appeal within 14 days and this period should be frozen, so you would still be eligible for the discounted rate if this appeal is rejected
Appeal to the council (second stage)
If the council rejects your case but you still feel hard done by, then you will be sent a “notice to owner”, ordering you to pay the full fine. If you receive a ticket by post, then this “notice to owner” will be the first you hear of it. You can challenge the local authority in what is known as a formal appeal. If this fails, you will receive a “notice of rejection” and you will generally be required to pay the full fine.
Take it to tribunal
The notice of rejection will explain which independent tribunal will consider any appeal and you have 28 days to lodge your claim. You may be given the option of whether to submit your evidence and claim in post or to appear at the hearing in person. In many cases, it is also possible to choose a hearing over the phone.
- Drivers in most of England and Wales should appeal to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal.
- Drivers in London should appeal to the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service.
- Drivers in Scotland should appeal to the Scottish Parking Appeals Service (phone only on 0131 221 0409).
- Drivers in Northern Ireland should appeal to the Northern Ireland Traffic Penalty Tribunal.
Running out of options
If the appeal is successful, the ticket will be cancelled; if not, there are few further options. The driver can ask for a review on a few narrow grounds (if the tribunal made an error in interpreting the law, for example). It is also possible to request a judicial review at the High Court if you are really determined to prove your point, although this could prove costly.
Appealing mini (private) parking tickets
Has the ticket been issued unfairly?
Tickets on private land, for example in a supermarket car park, privately owned multi-storey car park or private road, are issued under contract law: by parking there you are deemed to have accepted the conditions stated on the signs in the car park. Just as with tickets issued by local authorities, the advice is to appeal only if you genuinely think that the ticket was issued unjustly.
The grounds for appeal:
- The vehicle was not improperly parked: either the traffic warden made a mistake, or the signs were not clear.
- You are being asked to pay the wrong amount for a charge. This should usually be no more than £100.
- Your vehicle had been stolen, so you were not responsible for parking it (this does not apply if someone else borrows your car legitimately).
- You are not liable for the parking charge because you did not own the vehicle when it was parked.
Private firms may also consider exceptional circumstances ‒ if you were helping somebody involved in an accident, for example.
If your ticket has been placed on your car or handed to you by a parking warden, then do this immediately before moving your car. If you didn’t see a sign, then use your mobile phone to photograph how far away it was from your car, or how small the lettering is. If you receive a ticket through the post (most commonly due to enforcement by CCTV cameras) then any problems may have already been rectified, but it is certainly worth returning to the spot where you received the ticket to see if you can highlight any anomalies
Appeal to the private company (first stage)
It is important to take action. Until October 1, 2012, it was difficult for private companies to take action against motorists who parked on their property in breach of the landowners’ rules. This meant that many motorists successfully ignored charges. But since then, companies have been given stronger powers to demand payment from a vehicle owner and you are now more likely to end up in court if you refuse to pay.
If you receive the ticket on your car, you should immediately write to the car park operator, setting out why the issuing of the ticket was unfair and including copies of any evidence. Operators typically allow a 14-day period where they discount the charge by around 40%, but be warned ‒ they do not have to extend this period if you appeal.
Appeal to the private company (second stage)
If your initial appeal fails, then you will be sent a “notice to keeper” ‒ the car’s registered owner. You will then have 28 days to pay the charge or appeal formally to the car park operator. If you receive a ticket by post (most commonly from car parks monitored by CCTV cameras) then this is likely to be the first you hear of the charge, and it will be your only chance to appeal to the operator.
Appeal to the independent adjudicator
If the car park operator rejects your appeal, you have 28 days to take your appeal to the Parking on Private Lands (POPLA) appeals service. You need to submit evidence through the website, via email, or post. The case will be decided by an assessor who will let you know what the decision is.