/ 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.

Mark Elliker says:
22 October 2019

I am at a loss. We received a letter straight from a debt recovery company as ParkingEye letters were never received. We confirmed to them that the keeper was not driving and as the driver lived at a different address, the case would be passed back to ParkingEye as the process would need to start again. They did this on 03/10, but again, as of today (22/10 – Confirmed by phone, they wont send me an email to confirm they passed it back), no letter from ParkingEye has been received and the online PCN is saying we owe £170. We overstayed 25 minutes as it was a Cinema stay and we went for a coffee afterwards on the same retail park, which parking is free for 3 hours (although not well signposted!). On the basis that ParkingEye have no contact details by phone and we haven’t actually received a letter, as I believed they have 15 days from when it was referred back to them, especially as the original occurrence was 02/08, to issue a notice, any advice would be welcome.

john says:
22 October 2019

I am in exactly the same situation. Their app put the reg in and then closed the transaction without input from me. Did you follow your appeal to AS parking appeals?

Mark/John yes they do have phone numbers but here is the full resume on Parking Eye including challenging them in a court of law –read the whole lot first as it contains legal advice –

There has been a lot of controversy and press coverage in Norwich lately over the enforcement of parking contraventions in the car parks of buildings that have been converted from offices to flats. People have complained [and had appeals rejected] when they drove in, noticed the new restrictions, and drove straight out again but still got a parking ticket in the post with a demand for £100.

A local solicitor has produced guidance for drivers and dealt with a number cases and her advice is never to ignore the letters received from the enforcing companies, check the signs and notices, and take photos if you want to appeal on a technical point. She has explained the difference between the private and public parking regimes whereby a parking charge notice is in effect an invoice for payment that can only be enforced as a debt and that the company must explain the justification for charges of more than £100 [which is still grossly excessive in my opinion]. She suggested that, after a reasonable appeal or explanation has been lodged, persistent further demands for payment, and intimidating debt collection letters, could be ignored because it indicated that the company was reluctant to incur the expense and trouble of mounting a county court action for which they have to pay court fees and instruct lawyers to attend.

There was a two-page spread on this in today’s Eastern Daily Press.