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How to appeal a parking ticket

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Did you get back to your car only to find a parking ticket on it? Or maybe the ticket arrived in the post and left you wondering when you committed an offence?

However, the parking fine was issued knowing how to appeal against it could get you out of paying.

Do You Have to Pay?

In some circumstances, you might have a legitimate reason not to pay your fine.

It’s a bit sneaky, but the last time I needed legal advice, I paid £5 for a trial to chat with an online solicitor called JustAnswer.

Not only did I save £50 on solicitor feeds, I also won my case and didn’t have to pay my £271 fine.

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What kind of ticket do you have?

But first, what kind of ticket did you receive? Was it issued on private or public land?

There’s an important difference between a Penalty Charge Notice and a Parking Charge Notice. One which dictates how you deal with them.

For instance, Penalty Charge Notices are enforceable parking fines whereas Parking Charge Notices are really invoices and only enforceable by the courts!

What is a penalty charge notice?

A Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) is a parking fine issued by local councils, the Police and other authorities. You’d get one for parking illegally on public land.

For example, if you park on double yellow lines, you’d get a Penalty Charge Notice because it’s an offence to stop or leave a car on double yellow lines.

The parking fine could be left on your vehicle. Or the offence could be caught on camera so the fine arrives through the post a couple of weeks later.

You can check a Penalty Charge Notice on a local council’s website.

What is a parking charge notice?

Parking Charge Notices (PCN) are tickets issued by car park management companies or owners when you use one of their car parks.

They’re not a fine as such, but rather an invoice raised by the owner/operator for parking contraventions on their land.

You don’t have to pay a parking ticket on private land unless the issuer wins a court case against you and you’re ‘ordered’ to pay.

However, it’d be a mistake to ignore a parking ticket on private land because it could land you in court.

What’s the difference between a parking charge notice and a penalty charge notice?

As mentioned, a Parking Charge Notice and a Penalty Charge are quite different. They may look similar and they have the same acronyms.

But that’s the only similarity between the two parking tickets.

Firstly, a Parking Charge Notice is an invoice raised by the issuer because you breached their Terms & Conditions.

Secondly, a Penalty Charge Notice is a fine issued by an authority because you committed a parking offence!

How to appeal a council issued parking ticket

You shouldn’t pay a council issued parking ticket until you’re satisfied you merit the fine!

Mistakes happen whether human or because the Automatic Number Plate Recognition system gets it wrong. For example, the ANPR may have registered the wrong registration number.

But you shouldn’t wait too long before establishing whether you deserve a PCN or not. In short, you have a limited time to appeal the fine so the sooner you do, the better the outcome!

Successful Appeal Case Study


Initial Fine £100
Additional Fees £171
Total Fine £271

The Appeal Process

Scott used JustAnswer, online legal service to enhance his appeal. The trial of this cost him just £5.

Total Fine £271
Cost of legal advice £5

JustAnswer helped Scott craft the best appeal possible and he was able to win his case.

Scott’s fine was cancelled and he only paid £5 for the legal help.

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Can I ignore a parking ticket from the council?

No. Ignoring a parking ticket from the council could end up being an expensive decision. Firstly, if you don’t pay within 28 days things escalate and you’re sent a ‘charge certificate’.

Secondly, if you still don’t pay the PCN within 14 days of receiving the charge certificate, the fine goes up by 50%.

Thirdly, if you continue to ignore things for a further 14 days, you’re sent a court order to pay. Plus, there’d be extra costs to pay.

Council parking ticket appeal rejected – what now?

You’ll get a Notice of Rejection if you’ve filed a Formal Representation with a council and it’s rejected.

The notice gives you two options which are:

  • To settle the fine within 28 days of receiving the Notice of RejectionTo file an appeal with an Independent Parking Adjudicator

The appeal form is included in the rejection pack you’re sent by the relevant authority

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How to appeal a private issued parking ticket

You should check that all the details on a Parking Charge are correct and if they’re not, you can file an appeal online with the issuer.

The process is different to that of a Penalty Charge Notice. For example, you’d file an appeal for a parking ticket on private land with the management company. But first, you should check if the operator is an ATA member.

If they aren’t members, don’t contact them until they get in touch with you! The reason is that if they’re not ATA members, they can’t retrieve your details from the DVLA!

Only ATA members can get your details from the DVLA.

You can check whether an operator is a member of the ATA by searching online via the British Parking Association (BPA) or the International Parking Community (IPC) websites.

That said, if a non-member does get hold of your details, you should respond to them. But chances are the operator got your name and address illegally!

You can file a complaint with the DVLA if this is the case!

To appeal a parking ticket on private land, you should:

  • Write to the operator and provide valid reasons for objecting to the fine
  • Provide all your evidence to support your appeal

Unfortunately, there’s no formal appeals process if the operator isn’t a member of ATA.

Can I ignore a parking ticket from a private company?

It’s never a good idea to ignore a fine from a private company even though it’s not immediately enforceable.

The operator may decide to take you to court and if you don’t attend a hearing, a judgement is registered on your credit file.

Not only this, but you’d end up having to pay court costs which adds to the overall cost of the Parking Charge! In short, it’s never wise to ignore parking tickets no matter where you got them.

Private parking ticket appeal rejected – what now?

You have to make a formal appeal to the Independent Appeals Service if the operator is a member of the IPC and your appeal’s rejected. The service is free if you lodge your appeal within 21 days of receiving a letter of rejection from private parking operators.

That said, if you don’t mind paying, you can file an appeal within 12 months of a formal appeal being rejected. But you’ll have to pay a fee of £15 to do so.

However, if the operator is a member of the BPA, the appeal must be sent to Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA). The appeal must be filed within 28 days of receiving a letter of rejection from the operator.

You must provide supporting evidence whether you appeal to POPLA or the Independent Appeals Service. Otherwise, it’ll be rejected!

What are the grounds for appealing?

There are several valid grounds for appealing a parking fine. You can’t just say the fine is unfair!

I’ve listed some grounds for appealing a parking fine below:

  • The fine arrive more than 14 days after the parking violation happened
  • You parked your vehicle correctly and therefore no parking infringement occurred
  • The road markings and signage were unclear
  • You weren’t the driver when the fine was issued
  • There was no way for you to pay to park
  • You were overcharged
  • Your vehicle had broken down and you were waiting for assistance
  • You were unable to return to your car on time
  • The ticket was issued when you were just out of time

You should always provide proof when appealing a parking fine. Plus, you should use an appeal letter template so that you know you’ve got the right format.

When can’t I appeal a parking ticket?

You can’t appeal a parking fine if you’ve already paid the fine. However, there are other reasons which could stop you from appealing it which I’ve listed below:

  • You ignored the parking fine and missed the deadline to appeal it
  • An order to pay has been issued by the court

An appeal won’t be considered if the time limit to disputing the ticket has run out!

Are parking tickets legally enforceable?

Whether a parking fine is legally enforceable or not depends on several things which I’ve explained below:

  • Is the fine issued by an authority for a parking infraction on public land?
  • Did you get the parking fine on private land?

If the parking fine was issued by an authority for a parking violation on public land, it’s enforceable!

However, if the parking fine was issued by a car park management company for a parking infringement on private land, it’s only enforceable by the courts!

In short, the operator must win a court case where a judge issues an Order to Pay for the ticket to be enforceable.

Is there a time limit to issue a PCN?

Yes. Whether you get a Penalty Charge Notice or a Parking Charge Notice, the parking fine must be issued within a specific deadline.

For example, the parking ticket must reach you within 14 days after the offence occurred if it was caught on camera and the fine arrives in the post.

If a PCN arrives later than 14 days, it’s one of the grounds you could use to challenge it!

Is a Parking Charge Notice (PCN) a Criminal Offence?

No. A Parking Charge Notice isn’t a criminal offence. First, the ticket is not really a fine but rather an invoice raised by the operator.

It’s a civil matter between a car park management company and a driver.

If the operator starts legal proceedings, the case is heard in a Magistrate’s Court and not a Crown Court.

What is the best excuse to appeal a parking ticket?

As mentioned, there are several valid excuses for appealing a parking ticket. It’s worth noting there are many reports of errors happening because of Automatic Number Plate Recognition systems.

If the ANPR records the wrong licence plate or the time you arrived and left a car park, you could dispute the fine on these grounds.

Other excuses to dispute a fine include:

  • A medical emergency prevented you from returning to your vehicle
  • You were only a couple of minutes late getting back to your vehicle
  • Your vehicle broke down and you had to wait for a recovery truck
  • The parking ticket arrived in the post over 14 days after the infringement happened
  • The signs and road markings were faded or unclear
  • You were not the driver at the time the ticket was issued
  • There was no way to pay the fee to park because the machines were broken
  • You parked correctly and paid the right fee
  • The parking ticket was incorrectly issued

How do I write an appeal for a parking ticket?

A formal appeal letter must include relevant information which I’ve listed below:

  • The PCN ticket number
  • Your vehicle registration number (VRN)
  • The date the parking ticket was issued
  • A formal appeal form with your letter of appeal
  • The reason why you are appealing the parking ticket

Getting the support of a Solicitor can take a huge weight off your mind.

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Is there an early payment discount?

Yes. There is normally an early payment discount whether you receive a Penalty Charge Notice or a Parking Charge Notice.

  • You’d only pay 50% of the fine when you settle a Penalty Charge Notice within 14 days
  • You’d pay 40 – 60% of a parking ticket when you pay a Parking Charge Notice within 14 days

How long does a parking company have to respond to an appeal?

A car park management company must respond within 56 days once they receive your appeal. When an operator fails to respond within this deadline you win the appeal.

In short, they can’t make you pay the fine if they miss the deadline!

Parking ticket companies

There are hundreds of car park management companies in the UK. The private operators manage car parks for their clients.

Now, some of the operators are known to take you to court and if you lose, you’ll have to pay court costs on top of the fine. But others are not so inclined. Check out my guides about specific operators to find out more.

Can I challenge a PCN after payment?

No. You can’t appeal a PCN once you’ve paid it. The reason is that once you settle a fine, you’ve effectively admitted liability and therefore, you’ve lost your right to challenge it!

Can you appeal a parking ticket if the machine is broken?

If you can’t pay because a payment machine or parking meter isn’t working and there’s no other way to pay, you can appeal the fine. The parking ticket should, therefore, be cancelled.

However, if other payment machines which you could use work, the parking ticket won’t be cancelled!

Plus, you must provide solid proof that you were unable to pay otherwise, your appeal will be rejected!

How do I pay a parking ticket if I lose it?

You should get in touch with the issuer if you’ve lost a parking ticket. Moreover, you should contact them as soon as possible.

Whether you got a Penalty Charge Notice or a Parking Charge Notice, you’ll need to find the ticket’s reference number.

You’ll be asked to provide the date the ticket was issued and the time and place you got the parking ticket to retrieve the information.

How to avoid a parking ticket?

The only way to avoid getting a parking ticket is to follow the rules and park correctly. Whether it’s in a private car park or on public ground!

You should read the signs before you park on public land. You should also familiarise yourself with an operator’s Terms & Conditions when using a private car park

It’s the only way to ensure you don’t get a parking ticket!

However, it’s worth bearing in mind that many tickets are issued using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR). The technology is known to get it wrong even when you park correctly!

How to check for parking tickets?

You should contact the local council if you believe you got a PCN but forgot to pay the fine. You’ll need to provide your vehicle registration number (VRN) when you want to check a parking fine.

If you got the fine on private land, you’d need to contact the operator. Again, you’ll have to provide your VRN and as much information as you can to retrieve the information.

Can you get a parking ticket if you have broken down?

It depends. For example, if your vehicle breaks down on double yellow lines, you could still get a PCN.

According to the Highway Code, it’s an offence to stop on double yellow lines at any time – including when you break down!

That said, if you’ve broken down in a carpark and you’re waiting for assistance, you could appeal the parking ticket!

Hire a Parking Solicitor for less than a coffee.

If you’re thinking about appealing your parking ticket then getting some professional advice is a good idea.

Getting the support of a Solicitor can make your appeal much more likely to win.

For a £5 trial, Solicitors from JustAnswer can look at your case and help you create an airtight appeal.


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