/ 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.

Sarah says:
13 November 2019

Although I am the registered keeper my son-law was driving and stopped in a car park to let out my daughter who popped across the road to post a letter. He did not leave the car and I have received a letter from parking company for £100 with a photo of him sat in the car? Is this a fair fine ?

Probably, Sarah [although the amount of the penalty is extortionate]. It depends on what the car park regulations say about temporary stopping without parking and leaving the vehicle but I suspect that any form of ‘waiting’ is caught.

It’s ridiculous that anyone should be charged for stopping to post a letter. I expect that we will hear of people being charged for stopping to read the rules for a car park. Indiscriminate use of wheel clamps led to a ban on their use on private land and maybe it’s time to push for a ban on charging for stopping for a few minutes, provided that a motorist is not creating an obstruction.

I periodically act as a taxi service for friends (who do the same for me) and used to drop them in the car park at the back of the station in town. There is no dropping-off point and being concerned about the possibility of charges I now stop on the double yellow lines outside the car park instead.

Kevin says:
13 November 2019

Isn’t there a rule about a commercial contract having to be fair?

I can’t imagine any court seeing terms like these as fair, unless there is a barrier with an ‘escape’ route and prominently displayed T&C’s.

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The UK courts did deem the existing penalties as fair. Time to try to change that.

When using a car park you are presumed to have accepted their conditions. Private landowners can decide these and we have no right to ignore those if we choose to use their land.

We might stop on double yellow lines, in a bus stop, cross briefly into a bus lane but if we are caught we are penalised. Cameras – speed, lane, ANPR – have removed discretion from such issues.

I believe that the British Parking Association recommends that its members allow an overstay period of ten minutes. I have stopped on double yellow lines on many occasions, to deliver and pick-up passengers, including disabled people who don’t always move quickly, post a letter or collect something from a shop. I have often driven into car parks with ANPR, checked the charges and then departed to find somewhere else to park. I have never been charged. Discretion does still apply and in my view the top priority should be to put an end to charges for trivial matters.

Kevin makes a good point about contracts being fair.

The point about avoiding penalties like double yellows is not being caught. Cameras, though, do not have discretion.

The difficulty is how you interpret “trivial”, and exercise discretion.

I believe the 10 minute leeway is discretionary and after someone has already acquired a ticket to park.

I prefer the days before cameras when you felt you had the opportunity to negotiate with the enforcer. I fear, however, rose tinted spectacles ……….

I’ve already suggested that anyone who overstays for a short time should not be charged on the first occasion, but receive a fine if they do the same again – say in the next six months. With camera-controlled parking the data will be held on computer and these data could be used to distinguish between those who make a trivial mistake from serial offenders.

We are moving from paying by cash to paying by card or phone, so in future we could see parking charges added to our credit card bills.

Average speed cameras effectively apply discretion by distinguishing between those who exceed the speed limit for a short time and those who clearly have no respect for the law.

I would agree but most parking charge notices issued to transfer liability to the keeper are not issued properly and in line with the code of practice from the association. This ticket could have been challenged because the operator did not give 10 minutes grace period and if you didn’t park, you are not liable.

Alison says:
13 November 2019

Looking to park as I am disabled main road was busy. I turned round in the hotel’s car park and got a ticket. They will have no evidence photographically of my vehicle being parked on their land.

Janet Carter says:
16 November 2019

I have received a Parking Charge Notice after parking in a public car park managed by a private company. I entered the wrong registation number ( one digit wrong) and I have the ticket as evidence which also shows the amount paid and that I left the car park 55 minutes within the time I paid for (by cash). Is it worthwhile appealing?

Probably not, Janet. Many similar cases have been posted here and I cannot recall one where the parking enforcement company yielded. It is a technical contravention in which evidence is irrefutable and enforcement automatic. The amount of the penalty for such minor infringements is appalling, however.

Castle says:
16 November 2019

Yes it’s worth appealing because even if you lose, you will win in court as the Parking company has no legitimate interest in charging a “penalty” in your situation.

That’s an interesting interpretation that I have not seen before and would certainly make an appeal worth while if people have the stomach for the fight. It would be interesting to know how many cases have fallen because the court applied the ‘no legitimate interest’ doctrine. I suspect most cases don’t get that far and are dropped after the routine threatening letters, debt collector’s warnings, etc, fail to get a response. Takes nerves and causes anxiety to stick it out though.

I presume the requirement to add your reg number to a ticket is to prevent you transferring it to someone else when you leave. I’d argue that if I have bought an hour of parking then I am legitimately allowed to have that space for an hour, even if I gift it to someone else. Doubt that has any mileage though.

Discretion? There is very little and rarely was as far as parking goes. Overstay at a parking meter and if the penalty flag appeared and you were beaten to it by the traffic warden, you got a ticket. No good arguing.

For 1984-style ANPR monitored parking, I guess you have to enter your reg number to allow the ‘bots to match up your payment to your arrival and departure times.

Ultimately legislation will only be amended/repealed by MPs. So while this may be considered a minuscule issue compared to, for example NHS, Brexit, climate change etc etc – don’t forget to mention it if anyone knocks on your door soliciting your vote. If we don’t complain to politicians they won’t know. This applies which ever candidate you support.

All these issues arise out of a poorly drafted piece of legislation (Protection of Freedoms Act 2012) which seems to be based upon the curious notion that if parking companies are given the power to impose parking charges (effectively fines) they will act in a fair, reasonable and equitable manner. As we have seen, the “charges” they impose are grossly disproportionate to the harm caused by breach of parking rules in private car parks. The circumstances and manner in which “charges” are imposed are often unreasonable. The only brake on their excesses is the voluntary code of practice of their trade association. Self-regulation is not appropriate for the parking “industry”.

Far from being a sensible way to maintain order in car parks it has become a serious money-spinner, now widely used by the retail trade to prop up their falling profits from legitimate sales of goods in their stores.

What worries me about the automatic penalisation of minor parking infractions and the extortionate penalties levied is the undermining of our sense of justice and fair play. There are many motoring offences that are just as conducive to automatic fines and prosecutions but are dealt with by the police in a much more sensible way.

If you are driving with a broken tail light [say] and you get pulled over by the police, unless there are any other aggravating factors the chances are they will give you ‘words of advice’, look around the vehicle for any other problems and if there are none send you on your way. The same might apply if using a mobile phone while driving or not wearing a seat belt. Yet if you overstay in a parking space on private land by a minute or two, or park marginally outside the marked space, or get one digit wrong on entering your vehicle registration in the ticket machine, automatic processes will swing into action and send you a parking charge notice with a penalty out of all proportion to the seriousness of the technical contravention.

Which? has been asked many times to campaign for fair treatment and good laws on parking enforcement but does not see it as a priority unfortunately.

Most parking infringements cited are mistakes by the driver, and I’m sure deep down they take responsibility for their failure to comply with regulations. By all means try the goodwill escape route. However, I see the discontent in proportion to at least the square of the penalty. So we should simply campaign for acceptable penalties.

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The government realised it had to get a grip on the use of wheel-clamping to deal with parking on private land so it prohibited that and enabled the present regime which has had unintended consequences. Unfortunately it is not an election issue but does require parliamentary time which recent governments failed to provide. It would probably require a private member’s bill to change the present situation. Certainly Conservative governments are less likely to intervene in business affairs and private matters and that does seem to be a popular approach. We shall soon see whether there will be a difference.

I expect all car parking will be nationalised and the extortionate fines and charges used to buy free broadband for everyone.

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But, come the green revolution, only Party members will be allowed cars and then only for state business.

The free broadband pledge is interesting; many of the same criticisms being made about it were made when Labour introduced the NHS in 1948.

Heating, housing, energy, food, water are, for example, life’s essentials. Nothing more essential to life than healthcare. But broadband???? Really?

Hey all, while this conversation is taking an interesting direction, the direction it’s taking isn’t on topic with parking fees and fines.

May I suggest we shift any further comments on these points over to the Lobby? https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/the-lobby-2/

I must remember to look at the Convo topic before responding to a comment 🙁

Why not shift all the off-topic posts to the Lobby? Better still, why not create the ability to start topics for some registered members?

I think we could be more careful to ensure out comment bears some relevance to the Convo topic.

I agree; but it’s not always that simple, since the topic header can be a long way up from the current comment to which one is replying. That could be resolved by tagging each comment with the topic header title which increases clutter, of course, but makes off-topic straying less likely,

I generally look first at “Latest comments” under “Recent activity”. Each comment is given with the Convo header where it was posted.

I will try to be more careful. 🙂

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A relative is facing demands totalling nearly £1000 for parking outside her home, even though she has had a permit to park for the past 10 years. Unfortunately then problems started when the permit fell off the windscreen and was accidentally put in a refuse bin after being mistaken for rubbish by an elderly relative who kindly offered to clean the car during a visit to his home about 100 miles away. By the time the permit was found and returned by post three £100 charges had been imposed for failing to display the permit. Three more PCNs were imposed when the permit fell off the windscreen into the passenger footwell when the adhesive failed to hold in warm weather. The charges were imposed in quick succession and to my mind are excessive and unreasonable bearing in mind there was no intent to avoid payment in the first place. An attempt to appeal against the first two charges was refused by the parking company on the grounds that it was made too late. All six PCNs are likely to be increased to £160 this week. Should my relative pay up or contest this matter in county court?

I am presuming this is a case of parking on private land and not on the public highway where a local authority would be involved.

Because there has undeniably been a failure to display the permit as required enforcement action is not surprising. It is unfortunate that your relative who owned the car did not immediately contact the parking company as soon as she realised her permit was missing and before a parking charge notice was issued; alternatively she could have parked somewhere else.

Given that the tickets were issued effectively for the same contravention on multiple days close together or consecutively in two different periods it might be worth your relative seeking to negotiate a reduced payment with the parking company and try to settle for two of the tickets at the full charge and for a £10 administration fee for the other four. That would be a total of £360. The alternative is that the company would have to proceed to court action which would be costly for them and not guaranteed to provide the full amount they are seeking.

It would be for the parking enforcement company to bring any action in the county court and that might not happen, but if it did and a reasonable offer of settlement had been made in advance of a hearing that should stand in your relative’s favour.

Yes, it was on private land and it is unfortunate that she did not contact the parking company immediately. But there were a few circumstances which affected her judgement. She was returning to work after maternity leave, she was worried about a redundancy threat, her husband had just started a challenging new job, their baby was waking up on the hour through the night and also had just started at a nursery. Oh, and they were also having constant problems with a long and fraught house move which has only just been resolved. Your suggestion of making a reasonable offer of settlement is a very good idea but do you think it would be worth making use of the Which? legal service and challenging the parking company in court on the grounds of strong mitigating circumstances?
Is it worth contacting the local MP or media about this case so that others can be warned about the tactics of the company involved? I can see the headlines now: “Couple face £1000 fines for parking in their own legal parking spot”!
A friend of mine has suggested making a counter claim against the parking company for what amounts to harassment, threatening tactics and maybe victimisation (as the parking ‘warden’ made no attempt to warn my relative and her husband whose home is only about five yards from where they always park). Has anyone tried that before?
Thanks very much for your guidance so far.

I presume that the parking permit was paid for in advance (or was it free with the accommodation?) and registered to the car? It is understandable that a car without a permit was penalised – the permit presumably ensures entitlement to a parking place, so preventing interlopers.

As John suggests I would offer a compromise of part payment for carelessness. I suspect if it went to court the fact that the relative had (paid for) a permit would stand in their favour. The parking company should have checked that and taken it into account.

However, nothing is for sure so, in view of the potential worst case cost, I would contact Which? Legal for advice (or, failing that, a solicitor).

William – I would suggest making a reasonable offer to settle as soon as possible and before the parking charges escalate. If that is rejected and the company proceeds with legal action that would be the time to take legal advice. If it went to court, and it looked as though the case was going against your relative during the hearing, pleading mitigating circumstances might help but that runs the risk of cross-interrogation or attempted demolition of the mitigation.

I would not recommend making a fuss in the media or through an MP in relation to possible harassment, threatening action or victimisation since none of that seems to have occurred yet. The parking company cannot be expected to know any of the personal circumstances behind any failure to display a parking permit or to ignore a parking ticket so can hardly be accused of improper behaviour. From what I have read in many previous comments here the parking company’s actions have been par for the course and, however uncomfortable, do not seem to be unlawful. If at the end of it all there is still a deep sense of grievance then drawing attention to the case might give some relief but since your relative has to continue living where she does and the parking company will no doubt continue to patrol the parking area I would not antagonise them.

It comes down to how much your relative wants to make a contest out of this between herself and the parking company. My inclination is to get the best possible outcome and get it over with. I don’t think the issue of the parking tickets can be effectively challenged but the amount payable can be, in my view. If you all concentrate on that and act reasonably you might obtain an acceptable outcome.

Thanks again John and thanks also to Malcolm.
The permit was paid for in advance for a year from last February.
I’ll pass your comments to my relative and suggest that she pays around £350 but I can’t help feeling that since they have already claimed any appeal would be outside the time allowed they might simply ignore any further correspondence from her. It seems that a further appeal to a so-called independent appeal service has also been rejected as being outside the time allowed.
I’ll let you know what happens next. I fear the worst.

Thanks for your help and guidance.

I don’t think the issue of the parking tickets was ever appealable, William. The issue now is whether accepting an offer makes commercial sense for the company against the cost of taking legal action, or hoping for a compassionate response [unlikely in my view].

John, it’s getting worse. My relative managed to speak on the telephone with the parking company’s payment section but they refused to hear any appeal unless the landowner (a well-known housing association) first gives them approval. The landowner’s local representative is not responding to emails and refuses to take my relative’s phone calls. So, despite my relative’s attempts to resolve this matter the other side apparently doesn’t want to budge.

That is very unfortunate, William.

This means that the choice boils down to your relative standing her ground and refusing to pay, effectively calling the company’s bluff and forcing them to take her to court, on the one hand, or on the other hand caving in and making an enormous payment just to get the case off her back.

My view is that the company will probably not go all the way. This is a civil debt, not a statutory fine, and courts expect applicants to behave reasonably, including giving fair consideration to any offers to settle a dispute in a proportionate manner. A payment into court would be a good move if the parking company was determined to proceed against your relative.

The parking company will hopefully be guided by its own legal advisers on the balance of advantage of incurring court fees and legal costs against accepting a compromise settlement. It [or its lawyers] will also, no doubt, consult its client, the housing association, if a court claim becomes the last resort in order to be satisfied that it wishes to maintain its refusal to negotiate and to proceed harshly against one of its tenants. Questions of reputation could affect the outcome.

This case is unlike others where there was a legal argument that the occupation of a parking space deprived others of its use or deprived the landowner of income. Here, your relative has an allocated parking space and was in possession of a valid permit – a fact the landowner cannot deny. Other than a weak principle, I cannot see what they are fighting over.

At least your relative now has more evidence that the landowner and their contractor are acting unreasonably and being intransigent for no satisfactory reason.

I had a parking penalty ticket a week ago for failing to display my ticket,
The problem is nothing is ever black or white.
I did purchase a parking ticket for the day at the bus station to catch a coach to London and celebrate my Partners Birthday at the Shard ;
I had a flat tyre in the morning and when arriving at the bus station the Coach was already boarding passengers.
The ticket i placed on the console must have blown upside down as i closed the car door so i appealed.
I downloaded the ticket and of my bus journey ,But hey ho the decision was made no waiver .
So i emailed back please tell me if it was your car or a member of your family would you still think its fair to penalise them .

Geraldine says:
22 November 2019

I bought a parking place with my flat (leasehold). I have received a ticket/fine for parking in my own parking space because the badge which I had only obtained that day, was not on the windscreen (it did not stick) so I left it on the car seat. There are a number of other extenuating circumstances. An appeal failed. Does anybody know of my rights with regard to a parking space actually bought by me as a leaseholder.

Hi Geraldine, I recommend that you read the small print of the agreement under which you have leased your parking space.

It if clearly sets out that you can be penalised for not displaying your parking permit then you may have to pay your penalty.

But if those conditions are not clearly set out, you may have valid grounds for refusing to pay. Were the matter to go to Court, I wonder if the Court would really agree that you can be fined for parking in your own leased parking space?

I parked at Luton Airport Parkway station and went off on a 3 day trip abroad. When I got back to the carpark, I realised that I had made a mistake and unlike the previous times I have used the car park, the system had changed and instead of buying a ticket when you leave the carpark, you had to buy a ticket at the start of your stay. As soon as I realised my mistake, I called the company while I was standing by the ticket machine to see if anything could be done. The person said they couldn’t take retrospective payment but gave me a call ref that they said I could use in an appeal should I get a ticket. Of course, I did get a PCN come through. I duly appealed, which was rejected, and I paid the £60 within the required 14days. However, what I hadn’t realised is that the PCN letters that came through related to different dates – in other words they had fined me for each of the three days that the car had been there. I appealed again saying that I had been out of the country (and gave evidence) and that of course had I returned on day 1 and realised my mistake I would not have done that again on subsequent days (and proof of that intention was the call I made from the machine). There was literally nothing I could have done about correcting the mistake for subsequent days, meaning I have been penalised 3 times for a single mistake. This too was rejected. Now I have a solicitors letter asking me to pay up a very significant sum which I feel is very disproportionate and unfair. Any advice? There seems to be no route for appeal as POPLA doesn’t cover railway carparks and I seem to be too late for asparking. Will they take me to court and if so what are their chances of being successful?

If, as has been advised previously, railway station car parks are covered by railway byelaws a parking contravention [failure to pay the parking charges] would be dealt with in the Magistrates Court as a byelaw offence.

It is impossible to predict whether or not the train operating company will pursue the case but they have instructed solicitors so it must be regarded as a distinct possibility.

At least in the Court you would have an opportunity to explain the circumstances and the magistrates might be more inclined than a parking appeal tribunal to take a lenient line; for example, they could deal with one of the offences and strike out the other two, or give more time to pay, or determine that you should only pay the rate for the combined three day duration plus an administration charge. I would recommend you to instruct a solicitor as soon as possible as they might advise you to make a formal offer of settlement in order to avoid the need for a court hearing, and, in the event that you are summoned to appear in court, in order to present the best case.

Thank you John Ward.

Joanne says:
27 November 2019

I received a PCN that states that there’s is 2hours free parking between 8am and 6pm. I parked at 5.08pm and left at 8.20pm. In effect I was only parked for 52 mins during the opening hours. However when I returned to the car park the sign says, in very small type, that the parking terms applies to vehicles arriving between 8am and 6pm. This differs to what is written in the PCN which does not mention that the word arriving. I believe this indicates that the PCN is incorrectly charged. Do you think I have grounds for an appeal?

I doubt an appeal would be successful. I would expect the car park signs to override the information on the PCN because they are what the driver must observe before parking whereas the PCN arrives after the event. I am unclear, though, as to when free parking is available.

paraic Whelan says:
28 November 2019

If a ticket is issued via post, and they have the time of the offense incorrectly printed, can they reissue the ticket when I appeal it?

Probably not, but you would have to produce evidence to show that the time was wrongly recorded.

Nick Charalambous says:
1 December 2019

I parked in a costa coffee car park ( drive thru). I was there for 3 hours ( limit was 90 minutes). I was consuming drinks there and was in the building the whole time. Yes have recieved a fine

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Hmmm. That was a Costly Coffee.

Clint Coelho says:
4 December 2019

I own a flat and my lease says that I have the right to park in the private car park. The residents association have started a system of supplying passes every 6 months and ask for the last pass to be returned. I was not supplied with a pass although, I had requested this and after parking in the car park, I was issued with a parking charge notice. I had appealed and failed. I sent them a copy of the lease however, my further appeal with POPLA failed

I’d suggest your lease takes priority over a new “system” in giving you a legal right to park. Passes are, presumably, to ensure that your space, along with others, is protected against unauthorised parkers so are a good initiative. However, as you were not given a pass when you requested it I’d suggest the Residents’ Association has failed in its duty to look after all residents. My suggestion, if all is as it seems, would be to write to the RA with just what you have described and ask for the parking charge notice to be withdrawn, otherwise you will contest the charge by taking legal action against them (as they, presumably, are responsible for employing the car park enforcement company.)

Just an uninformed view.

Telford Centre says:
7 December 2019

I have received a parking ticket for overstaying the allocated time in a pick up zone at Telford Centre the incident occurred at 5:30 pm in November it was pitch dark and I saw no sign that indicated an issue.
However the sign is there but not illuminated and relying on secondary light from the centre buildings.
I would not have overstayed if I had seen the sign since I know I can park for one hour for just over £1.00 now they are asking for £50 rising to £100 do I have any case to not pay

I’d photograph the sign at night to demonstrate that it may not be visible. I’d suggest any parking restriction in a badly-lit area should have its own lighting.

Will your appeal succeed? A bit iffy. What you might do is ask for a campaign to reduce parking penalties to acceptable levels. If they were, people might not feel so aggrieved (except the parking companies – and local authorities – who would lose a large income).

Hi there,

The company imposing the charge on you will have to prove, on the balance of probabilities, that the signage was sufficiently clear and legible, in order that the wording contained on the sign would form part of the ‘contract’ between you and the company.

If the signage is not separately illuminated and the wording cannot reasonably be made out in the dark, then I think you have an arguable case that you should not be penalised with a fine in these circumstances.

The suggestion from Malcolm R below regarding photographing the sign (without the flash, of course!) at night may substantiate your case.

Do bear in mind that ultimately the parking company can seek to enforce the charges by issuing county court proceedings against you and, if successful, the company may be able to add further charges (such as the court fee) on to the fine. If you did not pay any judgment so that it was received by the company within a calendar month, this could negatively effect your credit rating.

If you are interested in receiving further legal advice on the issue, please do consider calling Which? Legal on 0117 456 6020, where we would be glad to assist you.

Hi, I got a parking ticket in a private car park, which has changed it’s name. I paid for the parking on my app but paid for the car park below it. The signs in the car park where I parked say the name of the car park, so I didn’t pay for this. But all of the signs leading to the carpark say it is called something else, which is what I paid for. I felt no need to check the signs in the car park as I was so confident that I knew what it was called from the signs pointing me to it. Do I have the right to appeal? I have already appealed to the company but they have declined, should I take it further?

Hi Heather

I am sorry to read that you were the unfortunate recipient of a ticket, particularly in such circumstances. I understand that you have made representations to the company concerned and these have been dismissed. However, you should have been made aware of a right of external independent appeal, which depending on the association to which the company belongs, could be the IAS or POPLA. Bear in mind that you normally have a limited period of time to refer the matter for appeal.

It will be for the company to prove, on the balance of probabilities, that the signage was sufficiently clear to impose a contractual obligation on you to make payment to them. Therefore if the signage was not clear, this could give rise to a defence. I would suggest (if you have not already) you return to the site and take photographs of the relevant signs, to substantiate your case.

Do bear in mind that ultimately the parking company can seek to enforce the charges by issuing county court proceedings against you and, if successful, the company may be able to add further charges (such as the court fee) on to the fine. If you did not pay any judgment so that it was received by the company within a calendar month, this could negatively effect your credit rating.

If you are interested in receiving further legal advice on the issue, please do consider calling Which? Legal on 0117 456 6020, where we would be glad to assist you.

Good to see such a prompt response from Which? 🙂 .

Thank you for your reply. Very helpful, I think basically the signs within the car park are sufficient to say you have to pay them to park, but the signs directing you into the carpark are misleading as all the signs into the car park are for the breakwater multi storey but it’s only when you get into the car park does the name change, to the marina car park. My question would then be, do the signs have to be clear en route to the carpark, or as long as the signs within the car park are sufficient can they then issue a ticket? So can companies do this on purpose to deliberately mislead you into paying for a different car park? In the breakwater car park they have a sign to say, more spaces in the breakwater multi storey, so I went to these spaces, paid for parking in the breakwater, when I was actually in the Marina car park, so I felt no need to check the signs within the carpark as I had been directed from the correct car park. Hope that makes sense?

There are two principal features of car parking penalties that seem wrong to me. One is, of course, what many see as the disproportionate size of the penalty, and subsequent additions. The other is (unless I’ve missed it) the existence of one independent regulator to whom you can take an appeal. As far as I can see, if your LA or one of the parking organisations dismisses your appeal your only course of action is to go to court – surely an unnecessary, stressful and potentially expensive solution to challenge a £100 penalty, particularly when your credit rating could be impaired. This whole industry seems to be able to profiteer based on the reluctance of motorists to defend their cases.

I believe the best solution would be to reduce penalties to acceptable levels – maybe £20 in most cases – so the recipients are much less aggrieved and generally accept responsibility. Failing that, I’d suggest an independent regulator to deal with disputes and a penalty claim that is frozen until resolved – no extra charges in case you lose. Some charge on the losing party to fund it. Maybe in that environment we’d end up with a fairer system – one that currently extracts £1.5 million from motorists each year.

Hi I just received a parking ticket, 21 days after I overstayed in Waitrose car park. This was the first I knew of it, it is from Britania.

I’m I correct in thinking that the letter needs to be sent within 14 days after the incident?

Yes for sure. In your reply/appeal it is crucial that you do not name the driver (and use of “I” is as good as naming yourself). Decline to name the driver in your appeal – as they are out of time you have no such obligation – and since they have not complied with their code of practice, this should put an end to it as they have no driver to pursue and no longer a right to persecute the RK..

I should add the usual disclaimers. I am not a lawyer – and your mileage may vary. This suggestion may or may not be in line with official advice.

The Protection of Freedom Act ( http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2012/9/schedule/4/enacted ):

“(4)The notice must be given by—
(a)handing it to the keeper, or leaving it at a current address for service for the keeper, within the relevant period; or
(b)sending it by post to a current address for service for the keeper so that it is delivered to that address within the relevant period.
(5)The relevant period for the purposes of sub-paragraph (4) is the period of 14 days beginning with the day after that on which the specified period of parking ended.
(6)A notice sent by post is to be presumed, unless the contrary is proved, to have been delivered (and so “given” for the purposes of sub-paragraph (4)) on the second working day after the day on which it is posted; and for this purpose “working day” means any day other than a Saturday, Sunday or a public holiday in England and Wales.”

michael says:
10 December 2019

I recently got a 100 pound parking fine in post a few months back I drove into carpark in Ipswich parked up checked price of ticket thought was too much went back to car was on phone for 10 mins and drove off was in there for exactly 17 mins shoud I have to pay

Technically yes – you decided it was too expensive – but then carried on using the facility. A grace period of 15 minutes minimum is allowed. Check the signs – the grace period may be longer in a given car park.

If this was a few months back and you have neither appealed nor paid, they have up to six years to decide whether to take you to court. Expect increasing coercion (and price rises) from debt collectors until you cough up – or they get fed up and go away referring the matter back to the original parking sharks. Then, depending on various circumstances, that firm may or may not take you to court. You won’t know if you’re in the clear until the sixth anniversary of the transgression.

Carol eley says:
10 December 2019

I have received a parking ticket and at the time I thought I had paid by card come up on screen do you want a receipt I pressed no told them this but there is no record for payment no I did not check my bank till after parking ticket came through So said I had got to pay I always park in that car park but always cash but this time machine on card payment only

Thanks for the lesson, Carol: always take the receipt when transacting via a machine.

Clare says:
11 December 2019

I received a £70 parking fine for an overstay of 11 minutes. I spent £95 in various shops in the shopping centre whilst I was in the car park. In addition, I estimate that I was only five minutes late back to my vehicle, but was unable to move it straight away as the car parked in the space next to mine was at such an angle that I could not reverse my vehicle until the other car was removed. Please can you advise how I should appeal this to Popla as I have already had my appeal to the parking company rejected.

Norma says:
12 December 2019

I parked and paid for the time slot I was at the location and the location code did not record the correct location only realized this was the case after the first appeal failed. I was not informed on the first appeal that I could get the Vat Receipt online through connect cashless payment, through a work colleague I discovered this and found out the location recorded was not correct. I have now been advised to appeal to an independent parking board. Stressed and not sure if I can win this case and it feels unfair that I have to pay for something that I originally paid for the parking period.