/ Motoring

Parking fines: your questions answered

Have you ever had a Parking Charge Notice (PCN) that you felt was unfair? Do you know how to challenge or appeal it? We’ve rounded up and answered your questions.

Every month, thousands turn to Google to find answers on how to challenge or appeal a Parking Charge Notice (issued by a private company) or a Penalty Charge Notice (issued by a local authority).

But regardless of which type of fine they get, many come to Which? Conversation to air their frustrations or to seek advice.

And what’s more, we know the majority of council-issued PCN appeals are actually successful.

Which? Consumer Rights: Parking tickets

More than 8.6 million PCNs were issued in England (excluding London) and Wales for parking, bus lane contraventions and the Dartford Crossing charge in 2016/2017, according to the most recent stats from the Traffic Penalty Tribunal.

And while a miniscule 0.43% were appealed, 57% of those were successful.

That means you may want to challenge any PCN you get which you think was wrongly issued or is unfair.

Your PCN queries answered

More than three years ago we published Barry Beavis’s account of why he decided to fight a £85 PCN in court.

Mr Beavis’s gripe was with a charge issued for parking on private land at a retail park. He argued the £85 fine was not a genuine reflection on the company’s loss by his overstaying.

He may have lost in the County Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, but the post attracted more than 1100 comments from people applauding Mr Beavis’s efforts and seeking advice for their own PCN woes.

Here are some of the common complaints and reasons why you might appeal.

If you’re in Scotland or Northern Ireland, the rules are a little different so you’ll need to look up your local rules for appealing.

‘I paid for parking but accidentally put in the wrong registration number’

This is unfortunate and a very frustrating situation, but could have good grounds for an appeal if you can prove you paid (with your bank card statement) and a picture of your car’s actual registration.

When you pay for parking on private land, the contract is with you and the private parking company or landowner. So if you can prove you have not breached the contract on your end, your appeal may well be successful.

You can use our parking appeals tool to write a bespoke letter for free to help get you started.

But remember, challenging the ticket doesn’t extend the 14 day limit for paying a reduced charge – unless the operator agrees to extend the period, which they’re not required to do.

‘The car is mine, but I wasn’t driving it’

In cases where you receive a Parking Charge Notice from a landowner or private parking company, you can appeal the notice on the grounds that you weren’t responsible for the car when it was parked.

You can contact the company which has issued the fine and give them the full name and address of the person who was responsible for the car at the time.

Be sure to keep any emails, letters or make notes of the conversation if you opt to call. The company must cancel the parking ticket against you and send it to the other person. This is known as ‘transfer of liability’.

But if the person was a friend, family member or loved one you can opt to pay the fine instead of appealing and follow it up with them yourself.

You can also appeal a Penalty Charge Notice and a Parking Charge Notice if the car was stolen at the time the PCN was issued.

‘I bought a car and got sent a PCN for the previous owner’

In this scenario, you’re not responsible for the parking ticket and can appeal on the basis that at the time the PCN was issued, you were not the owner of the car.

Make sure you include any details you have about the previous owner, a copy of the registration certificate and evidence of when you bought the car.

‘I got a Parking Eye fine – can I challenge it?’

As with any parking ticket, you can challenge it – but whether you’re successful will depend on whether it was justified and fair (ie you actually broke the terms and conditions of the carpark).

We understand most of the successful appeals against Parking Eye are because you were a legitimate user of the land.

Before appealing, contact the business you were using and show them evidence you were a customer.

Often they will then write to Parking Eye themselves or give you a letter you can use to appeal your ticket.

For example, if you were a genuine shopper and only overstayed a short time, you may want to provide evidence of purchases (such as receipts and bank statements) and the letter from the business you were using.

Or if you were at a hotel for a conference which over-ran, you could provide evidence of your invitation and confirmation from the host that the event ran on longer than expected.

Another avenue is inadequate signage – go back to the carpark and look for signs about time limits. Are they clear? Are they visible?

Make sure you always follow the appeals procedure set out by the private company or the council. You can find this on their website or in the correspondence they’ve sent you.

Have you had any successful PCN appeals you can share? How did you do it? Or what about any unsuccessful ones? Why did you lose? Tell us below.

Ladi says:
4 March 2020

I have been issued two penalties for parking at the Royal Free Hospital in London. I was at the hospital on 11/1/20 and 20/1/20. and on these occasions, I did pay for my parking and 20mins is meant to be free. I was devastated to receive 2 parking penalties. I appealed the two and it was unsuccessful. It is rather sad and unfortunate that we are charged to park in hospitals. My question now is, why should I be penalised and charged a ridiculous amount of money on 2 consecutive days in a hospital? I have been told that I have underpaid, yet I am requested to pay the full amount. This is mentally draining for me. Do I have grounds to appeal? This is inhuman!

It will depend on what the rules are for parking at the hospital.

When you paid for parking, did you get a fixed period of time, and did you leave before that period expired?

How is the ‘free’ period accounted for? Is it only free if you leave before it expires? If your car stays there for longer than twenty minutes is there still a free period?

You received two parking penalties because there were two separate parking events on two different days.

Depending on how long it is since you received the notifications telling you that your initial appeals had been unsuccessful you could still have an opportunity to appeal to an adjudicator but, if you lose, it might cost you much more because there would no longer be an early payment discount. If you were successful at appeal the parking charge notices would be cancelled and there would be nothing to pay.

Instructions on how to pursue a further appeal should be with the documentation you have already received.

Nicola says:
7 March 2020

I find car parking ticket machines too complicated. As a result of one machine not confirming payment I’ve landed with a £60 fine. Despite appealing I’m reluctantly paying the fine. With fewer machines accepting cash, and not issuing display tickets the machines don’t always confirm payment or produce a receipt. I am by no means a techno fobic but all the machines are getting harder to understand. In my case I presented my debit card for ‘contactless’ payment and wrongly assumed payment had been accepted. I would like to know if anyone else has had a similar problem with car parking .

Dawn says:
8 March 2020

Is it classed as parking if I didn’t get out my car I dropped some one off and awaited his return ?

Possibly. It depends on the situation and the regulations of the parking place. If you’ve been caught doing this it’s worth challenging a parking charge but be prepared for disappointment. If you’re just wondering whether or not to do it, call the parking operator and see what they say.

noelyn says:
11 March 2020

What is the time limit of not having your phone on you to make a payment for visiting your local country park

It is difficult to comment without further information on the situation and what has happened.

There should be no necessity to have a phone on you when visiting a country park; alternative payment methods should be available.

If you have been penalised in some way I suggest you contact the country park to see what the regulations say and how people are informed of them.

I have been looking for information about parking at local country parks and nature reserves. Several allow payment by phone but cash is also accepted. I do hope that noelyn has the alternative of paying with cash. As John says, we need more information.

DerekP says:
11 March 2020

I usually walk to my local nature reserve. If, however, I did need to take my car, I would enjoy free parking once there.

Collette Lyn h says:
11 March 2020

My elderly dad parked outside the parking bay, effectively parked slightly in two bays because
of his 4×4 vehicle,not intentional, plenty of parking bays available so no loss of revenue.
Does he have a case, his appeal was rejected now threatening bailiffs etc

If your father has already challenged the issue of a parking charge notice [stage one] and also appealed against a refusal to cancel the notice [stage two] then there is no further right of appeal. But if he has not pursued stage two it could be worthwhile doing so – if there is still time to do so. Instructions for this should be on any communication giving the result of stage one.

This is a minor technical contravention and your father’s circumstances and explanation should have been taken into account in mitigation, but in the world of parking enforcement no quarter is given I am afraid. Unfortunately, if there is no further opportunity to appeal against the parking charge, I recommend paying it as soon as possible to stop it escalating.

In circumstances such as this it is unfair to levy a heavy fine; as you have said, there was no loss of revenue. Whether the operator would actually go to the extent of getting a county court order and using bailiffs is a moot point as they frequently don’t, but it’s probably not worth taking a chance as the consequences could be much worse than paying the charge.

allan glen says:
11 March 2020

the police moved my car and i got a parking ticket, this cannot be right, the council say its my car so i am liable the police said they were at fault but council are chasing me for the fine

I suggest you pay the penalty charge and then claim reimbursement [plus an amount for administration and inconvenience] from the police.

Chris says:
13 March 2020

I parked in a car park which I wasn’t clear whether it was private or not for about 10 mins then drove off. I received a letter showing a picture of my car and saying I was observed leaving site fine £60 if paid in 2 weeks or £100. I appealed and advised my mother who is disabled and with me was in the car and had a disabled badge. I now have received a Debt Recover Plus ticket stating fine is £160 I called them up and said I had appealed due to Disabled passenger they advise its on private land and disabled parking conditions don’t apply unless in disabled bay. I said well why am a charged they say its a private car park and you were observed leaving the car park and not entering any of the premises next to the car park you have to pay. I said would think about it and get advice. How do I stand ??

You were probably in breach of the terms and conditions applying to that car park. Unfortunately your appeals have cut no ice. I consider the escalation of the charge to be iniquitous. There is the possibility that the operator will not pursue you all the way to court although they will no doubt keep sending threatening letters and implying that bailiffs will be employed to recover the ‘debt’.

You have a choice whether to bluff them out [which is far from guaranteed] or pay up and put this unfortunate episode behind you.

This Conversation is called “Parking fines: your questions answered”, but there are very few instances of Which? actually answering the questions that correspondents raise. The answers are being given time and time again by regular contributors, usually covering ground that has been tilled before, but there has been no attempt by Which? to composite the answers, or to categorise them, to assist those who have a parking problem. It is ridiculous to expect people to plough through 15 pages of comments and replies to see if there is a similar situation, or to see what the general processes and rules are on the enforcement of parking charges and penalties. The same applies to the other long-running parking Conversation that arose out of the Barry Beavis case. It’s time for Which? to do what it says on its tin [or change the label].

Anyone who wants legal advice about parking fines can join Which? Legal for £29 plus £9 per month: https://legalservice.which.co.uk There is no need to be a Which? member. There is also useful advice freely available on the website.

In the Consumer Rights Conversation, staff from Which? Legal have been dropping in to respond to questions and mention the Which? Legal service. Perhaps the same could be done to promote this service in the Convos on parking.

After years of discussion about products supplied with the wrong plug we eventually learned that marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay are not legally responsible for ensuring that their traders are selling safe electrical and other goods. I do hope that Which? will devote its energies into pushing the government to tackle the problems that have arisen as a result of the increasing popularity of online sales.

The title of the Conversation is misleading. At the conclusion of the intro it says – “Have you had any successful PCN appeals you can share? How did you do it? Or what about any unsuccessful ones? Why did you lose? Tell us below.” It would be more appropriate, therefore, to rename this “Tell us how you fought your parking case”.

I must admit I seldom look at any other parts of the Which? website and perhaps that is not unusual. The answers to the questions are probably there if you know that and how to find them.

There are, of course, specialist websites that cover all aspects of parking enforcement. This Conversation makes no reference to such guidance.

This page on the website looks very helpful: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/appeal-a-parking-ticket

I do look at the website regularly but often launch into posting in Convos without looking at what is in the introduction further up the page. It would be better if I simply referred to that.

Which? devotes a great deal of resources into keeping their website up to date. I hope that those responsible for updating the information about parking fines do look at the relevant Convos.

Sam Pitman says:
17 March 2020

I was doing a delivery and parked in a permit holder only bay for less than one minute and I was given a ticket. The guy was waiting for someone to park there and the ticket was issued at the same minute as the vehicle was first seen. The driver nearly ran me over after accidentally too.

Karl Masters says:
20 March 2020

my Wife parked outside her friend’s flat using her friend’s visitor parking permit. She parked in the space allocated to her friend by the flats ( her friend’s car was out with her friend’s boyfiend that day.)
My wife then received a demand for £60, since risen to £100, and soon to rise to £160, stating that she should have parked in a visitor’s parking bay.
However, firstly her friend was unaware of this rule having lived there for 7 years, secondly the main car park sign states rather vaguely, ‘ vehicles displaying bay or area allocated permits must park in the corresponding bay or area’, but there are NO signs relating to any of the bays and nothing visible marked on the ground so how would anybody know what was or wasn’t a visitor bay?
Thirdly, my wife was trying to follow the rules by parking outside her friend’s flat in her friend’s allocated space as per her friend’s instructions and had no reason to be confused or need to call CPM for guidance which their sign recommends if you are unsure.
Finally, there were loads of empty spaces in the car park area and my wife was nor preventing anybody else parking.
We have discovered since that even the landlord was unaware of these rules and he appealed ( having sold the car park to CPM in 2018 ) on our behalf, but was also refused. We appealed but were turned down of course. Do we have a case based on the lack of any signage indicating which bays were which, plus the fact that we parked in what seemed the obvious place having been told to by the person who lives there?

Joy Cox says:
25 March 2020

My partner has received two final demands for £160 for a single parking charge penalty, but we never received the original notice so had no opportunity to appeal or even to pay the lowest fine which is offered if paid within 14 days. We did not even know where or when it was for until receiving the debt collectors letter and logging on to their site to look at the photos and letter. The photos do not show anything except him driving one way and then the other way an hour apart, the letter on the debt collection website is dated three weeks after the charge was apparently incurred. The parking charge should have been £1.50 and now they demand £160. We have appealed and tried to call the parking company several times but no one gets back to us.
Is it right that we should pay £160 of the final demand when we had no other notification about it? Also according to the information in the government guidance POFA2012, the notice should have been sent within two weeks of the infraction, when it was actually three according to the date on the letter on the debt collectors site.