How to Appeal a Parking Ticket
No-one likes getting a parking ticket – and yet it happens to thousands of Brits every day. We conducted research that found local authorities hand out millions of pounds’ worth of parking tickets every year, with more tickets issued on Saturdays than any other day of the week.
However, not everybody realises that parking tickets aren’t always valid. They may have been issued incorrectly – and if you can prove it, you might not have to pay. Success rates vary, but if you’ve got a good reason to believe the ticket is unfair, it’s worth appealing.
If you think you’ve been issued a parking ticket in error, follow this step-by-step guide to give yourself the best chance of a successful appeal.
1. Is it an official ticket or from a private operator?
There are basically two types of bodies who can issue parking tickets: official bodies like your local authority, and private car park operators. It’s an important distinction, because the routes to appealing them are very different.
However, the tickets themselves often look very similar. If your ticket contains the words “Penalty Charge Notice”, “Fixed Penalty Notice” or “Excess Charge Notice”, it’s probably from the local council (or another local body, such as TfL or the police).
If it’s worded any other way – “Parking Charge Notice” is a common one – it’s probably from a private operator.
2. Gather evidence of why you think the ticket is unfair
In either case, first gather evidence – photographic if possible – of why you’re appealing. Examples include:
- Out-of-order parking meters or ticket machines
- Faded road markings that are hard to see
- Signage that’s obscured, too small or otherwise hard to see
- Signage that’s confusingly worded
- You were parked correctly
- Your car broke down and you had nowhere else to park
- There was an emergency and you had no choice but to park there
- You have a disability that means you couldn’t return to your car on time
- Your pay and display ticket shows that you were parked for the correct amount of time
Take a photo of your car that clearly shows its location in the street or car park, so you’ll be able to back up a possible claim that you were parked outside the ticket-issuer’s area of authority.
If your car broke down, or you had to stop because of an emergency, try to get evidence of this – a receipt from a breakdown company, or a statement from a witness who saw what happened. Make sure you record the times clearly.
Most adjudicators will consider whether the fine or charge is fair and reasonable, so keep this in mind when gathering evidence – what about your case is unfair and unreasonable?
3. Appealing Penalty Charge Notices (the official ones)
If you’ve received a Penalty Charge Notice, remember that if you pay within 14 days, you only have to pay half of it. If you’re not confident you’ll win the appeal, this may be worth considering.
If you received the fine within ten minutes of your ticket expiring, you normally don’t have to pay, under rules established in 2015. Get evidence that you were within the ten-minute window (a photograph with a timestamp, for instance) and follow the appeals process below.
3.1 Making an informal appeal
Your Penalty Charge Notice should include details of how to appeal, usually to your local council. Write to them explaining why you’re appealing, including copies of as much evidence as possible. You have 14 days to do this.
The authority will either accept or reject your appeal. If they reject it, follow the next step.
3.2 Making a formal appeal
If your informal appeal is rejected, you now have 28 days to make a forma appeal. To do this, visit the Traffic Penalty Tribunal website (or London Tribunals if you’re in London) and follow the instructions there.
An independent adjudicator will be appointed to review your case and will make a decision as to whether you have to pay it. You must accept the adjudicator’s decision – failing to pay if they rule against you is likely to end up in court.
4. Appealing Parking Charge Notices (the unofficial ones)
Parking Charge Notices are from private operators, and as such it’s an invoice, not a fine. This importance difference means the issuer currently has no legal power to make you pay – although if the matter ends up escalating to court, the court might rule in their favour.
Like Penalty Charge Notices, there should be details of how to appeal the ticket enclosed. First, check if the operator is a member of one of the two main parking bodies, the British Parking Association or the International Parking Community.
If the issuer isn’t registered with either of those bodies, simply write to the company telling them why you won’t pay their invoice. Try to give out as little personal information as possible – as they’re not a trade body member, they probably won’t have data on you as they can’t access DVLA records.
Keep hold of any correspondence with them. It’s possible they will pursue the matter to court, but it’s generally unlikely if they’re not registered with a trade body.
If they are a member, follow these steps:
4.1 Make an informal appeal
First, make an appeal to the issuer – your parking ticket should include details of how to do this. Clearly state why you think you don’t have to pay, including any evidence if necessary.
If you accept you were wrongly parked, but you think the charge is too high, you may consider proposing an amount you think is fair instead – this might be enough to appease them.
They will either accept or deny your appeal – if it’s the latter, see below.
4.2 Make a formal appeal
At this point, you can use a third party to decide the dispute. Use the independent appeals service of the appropriate trady body, again including any evidence that could help your case. Follow the steps for appeal outlined on their websites – the BPA’s is here and the IPC’s is here.
The appeals service will mitigate between you and the operator. They may offer to reduce the fine or cancel it altogether. However, if they reject your appeal, proceed to the next step.
4.3 Going to court
If you still haven’t paid the fine by this point then as a last resort, the operator may take you to court – normally the Small Claims Court.
At this point, consider how likely you are to win – if you lose you my have to pay the operator’s court fees too. If your previous two appeals have been rejected, this may count against you in the hearing, as it’s been established that that evidence you submitted wasn’t strong enough to persuade an independent mitigator.
In other words, it may be better at this point to bite the bullet and pay up!
Parking Tickets – ©iStock.com/IPGGutenbergUKLtd
Traffic Warden – ©iStock.com/miszaqq
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