/ 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.


I received two parking charge notices from APCOA parking LTD over a year ago to which i appealed the decisions, as there was proof i had paid the charge on my bank account details.

I then received two letters from Debt Recovery Plus Ltd stating they would take me to court if i didn’t pay the fine and threatening me. Finally today after a year, i have received a letter from CST LAW suggesting their clients Debt Recovery Plus can take me to court if I do not pay both companies seem intermingled.

I have never received acknowledgement from APCOA regarding my appeal and felt like I was being threatened by DRP so ignored them. Has anybody got any advice and a step by step process, as I am currently on dissertation leave and want to get back to work without having to pursue the £340.00 fine further. Many thanks.

EL – Reply to CST Law telling them what you have written here. There are several websites giving detailed guidance on how to deal with disputes over the payment of parking charges.

For one you can ignore the threats from DRP as they have no powers to do anything.
Register with Fight Your Private Parking Invoice for very good advice
Depends on when you received the PCN and the appeal process is probably past.
Worth a try and Tony T,,,, has won over 5000 cases

Advice please a member of my family has received notification from their insurance they didn’t declare an accident. They have the details and they were in the car at the time but we’re definatley not driving. Someone has lied on an insurance claim by saying she was driving. What are your rights and way of redress?

Whoever was driving should have notified an accident to their insurer, which is likely to be one of the conditions they have agreed to when taking out the insurance. It looks as if failure to notify the accident has created a problem for your family member, who might need to take legal advice. That’s an unpleasant position to be in, Brian.

Brian, from what you say the supposedly injured party has filed a claim falsely naming someone? Was there actually an accident involving the family member’s car? How did the 3rd party get a name and address and insurer? The circumstances just don’t seem clear to me..

Hi, I just received a “Contractual Parking Charge Notice” from G24 Ltd, which was issued exactly one month after the incident of me parking in a carpark that they run. I’m told that they have to legally notify me within 14 days, Is that correct? I dont deny parking in the carpark, just didnt realise that when the shop was closed the maximum 2hr charging system still applied…..I was only parked there 20 mins.

An edit to the above. During shop opening hours its a maximum park of 2hrs. I have no idea that they charged differently when the store was closed.

When you parked you entered into a contract to pay the required fee. This is a contract law matter – a civil matter – and the parking company could sue you for the fee within 6 years. The contract is between the driver of the vehicle and the parking company. The 14 day rule does exist. It is specifically mentioned in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 s56 (refers to sch 4 c9). This section allows parking companies to claim parking fees from registered keepers of vehicles rather than the driver on the day if they cannot identify the driver. They get the keeper’s details by paying DVLA.
However if they want the right to take a registered keeper to county court they MUST have sent a “Notice to Keeper” within 14 days of the parking time. I am handling one case where the registered keeper was sent a “Notice to Keeper” 50 days after the parking time. The parking company broke one of the four conditions required by the Act – the 14 day rule- and any claim in court will fail. The keeper did not drive on the day – she was in covid quaratine – and she did not remember who drove her car 50 days earlier!
You say you did park so you entered into the contract. In contract law the general rule is that claims can be made within 6 years. Sorry!

AZHAR abbas says:
10 December 2020

paid the pcn,but registered in the county court how can i remove my name from credit agency.

Personally I would post in https://legalbeagles.info/ I found them much more helpful.

Karine says:
17 December 2020

Hi, I received parking ticket from euro car parks in sainsburys just for staying 15mn extra.
I have done appeal but they refused
After I started to received letter from dept recovery plus asking me to pay £140
I received about 3 letters in one year
I’m asking if I continue to ignored them or I pay the amount pleas.

As you contravened their parking conditions you are liable for the penalty. They can take you to court of you avoid payment. It is a gamble as to whether they will do that but, as you were in the wrong, I would pay.

It is time someone campaigned to stop these extortionate penalties for relatively minor infringements. I imagine if you had initially been charged £20, say, you might have paid up?

I received a NtO for parking in resident permit only on a Sunday when myself and a friend, with me in the vehicle, read the board out loud “Mon to Sat” and there wasn’t any penalty charge left on the car. Nor did I receive a PCN to be able to pay 50% of the fine.

A Henderson says:
20 December 2020

I received a PCN from UKPC in a retail car park and i didn’t even see a sign stating there was a time limit of 3 hours. i went in to the cafe with an elderly disabled neighbour and now i have a letter from ZZPS asking me to contact them to pay £170 because the parking charge is £100 and an admin fee of £70. I don’t know if i should phone them or not because no doubt when i tell them i had been with an elderly disabled lady and didn’t see the sign due to the sign being so high up. i only saw this sign the following week when i actually made a point of looking. doubt if they will believe me because no doubt they hear some untrue stories. I am worried about this just in case they do take me to court .

Can anyone advise me please.

Gabe John says:
22 December 2020

Please can someone help. I received a parking fine, incorrectly as i have a permit, at my flat 2 years ago. I cannot for the life of me find the appeal. Since then nothing. This week i received a final demand,. I still have the original parking permit, even tho it has since changed hands (the parking enforcement company).
I dont know whether to pay the new amount £135 or go to court and fight it. Even the picture of my car is ambiguous, not showing the area the permit is displayed. any help welcome x

my friend has got multiple parking tickets from the same machine which charged her 1 pound for a day rate, she used it on consecutive days, she is trying to appeal the tickets based on the fact the machine might be faulty. what else can she do to help her case?

Roger Wood says:
1 January 2021

Like many before me I have received a PCN for allegedly breaching the parking company’s terms and conditions. They allege I failed to input the full registration number. My ticket only showed 2 letters. I am confident I did input the full registration and consider if indeed there is a breach of their terms it is by them. Notwithstanding this they have suffered no loss so how can they claim damages?
I also believe they have a duty to mitigate any losses. The first car in England was registered in London in 1903 and was A1. Since then no car has ever been registered with only letters or indeed only numbers . The software in the parking kiosks should therefore reject any entries that only comprise numbers or letters and require the registration to be
input again. By doing this they would mitigate any losses that might flow.
Does a parking management company on private land require express permission from the land owner to be able to commence proceeding in their sole name?
The law I understand is to be changed and let us hope these unscrupulous companies are finally put in their place.

If payment machines are online it would be easy for them to check the entry against publicly available information and ask you to confirm that the registration entered corresponds with your car. It seems that registration A1 is currently assigned to a black Mini Cooper. Where machines are not online it would be easy to ask drivers to re-enter the registration number, as we are accustomed to doing when creating a new password.

At least the motorist is being spared charges for minor keying errors: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/01/drivers-who-enter-wrong-numberplate-could-be-spared-hefty-fines-/

Hello! Good morning. I got a parking ticket at Fistral Beach car park in Newquay, Cornwall.
The car park is exorbitantly expensive £6 cash no notes accepted in the matchine.
Option to call withot any phone signal. As it is located, kind of in a hole. The main matchine was also broken in the day. Don’t own a mobile phone.
What to do?
I have been reading about the this car park, in particular and they are very sneaky in general, with all their customers.
I appealed but due to the lack of transparency and confusion that they create on purpose missed the POPLA deadline.
What do I do? Will this affect my credit record if I don’t pay?
Do I go to court then? How will I know which day to go? Can I request a court that is near to my address?

Assuming there was a means to pay – you say the main machine was broken but were there others? – it was your responsibility to do so. Otherwise you should not park there. I suspect you need to pay the penalty.

My problem is that these operators, including councils, apply exorbitant penalties to trivial offences and this extortion should be stopped. A maximum legal penalty should be set down. Applying wheel clamps was put a stop to. So we can stop this racket.

The problem is those who set out to protect consumers seem to have no interest on tackling this.

I have failed in my appeal to POPLA for an unfair parking charge levied by Civil Enforcement (on behalf of Swanley Town Council, London Borough of Bromley). Do I have any other recourse? Can I still appeal to the Ombudsman or other independent authority?

Ken – The notification of the outcome of your POPLA appeal will tell you whether you have any further rights. So far as I know, the POPLA determination is final.

hi, I got a PCN for overstaying for 11 minutes at around 4:30 PM in Coronation Street in Sunderland. The nearest Ticket Machine at Villiers street adjacent to the coronation street have a sticker saying Free after 3 PM. Moreover, there is no ticket machine in coronation street. I challenged PCN but the council parking team decision came against me so I need to pay 50 pounds. It’s unfair as I saw the sticker on the ticket machine and didn’t have a parking ticket. it wasn’t my mistake as the council offering free parking after 3 pm and I parked at coronation street after 3 pm

Gurdeep – The parking regulations might be different in the two streets; they could be in different controlled parking zones in which case there should be entry signs that state the time periods for payment parking.

Have you spoken to an officer at Sunderland Council to ask why the Viliers Street machine appears to give misleading information?

Joanna George says:
11 January 2021

Has anyone had experience of a parking fine whilst staying at a Premier Inn using a private car park outside the hotel! I have had two £60 fines.

I’ve just received a PCN from our local council (Bexley) dated 13/01/21 for parking in a restricted street on 11/12/20 – no ticket was left on my car and I think it may have been issued by a smart car, that I saw leaving the street prior to parking.
Fine is £110.00 straight off, and the letter states so far £0.00 has been paid, as if I had received a letter previously offering a discount which I havent.
Do I have a leg to stand on contesting this? There is also no photo of the contravention available to view, and first correspondence I’ve received is 34 days after the offence.

Jay – Have you contacted Bexley Council’s parking enforcement service for an explanation? Compared to private parking operators, local authorities are usually quite helpful in informing drivers about parking tickets and if the ticket has not been issued correctly or is out-of-date might cancel it on a first contravention.

Hi have received a parking ticket from Lewisham council. I tried to pay the parking fee via the pay by phone service. It was not working and the signs nearby said pay by phone only. No mention of apps! Lewisham are refusing to accept this as a basis for withdrawing the fine. I have also found out that the council in response to a freedom of information request said that it would not issue PCN’s when the service was not working. Is it worthwhile appealing to the adjudicators?

Clifton – Possibly, but if they do not uphold your appeal you will have to pay the full penalty charge. I would only rate your chances of success at 40% [and that could include some goodwill]. If you act quickly you might be able pay at the reduced rate – check the information on the notification.

It is not clear from your comment whether it was the council’s system that was not working or whether your phone could not connect. The council could oppose your appeal by saying that if it was not possible for you to pay by phone you should not have parked there.

Hi John it was the councils system that was not working. They are as you suggest saying that I shouldn’t have parked there!! But I am that unusual in arriving somewhere with limited time to get to an appointment and expecting a service to enable me to park to be working?

It is not the council’s responsibility to ensure you get to an appointment. In principle I also agree that if you cannot meet the terms and conditions – by being unable to pay for example – you should park elsewhere.

That is not meant to sound critical, but my view of the situation. However, a council has a duty to provide car parking I believe, and if it was their pay facilities that demonstrably failed then they have a moral duty to withdraw pcns in my view. You could ask how many other pcns were issued on the day you parked; you are unlikely to be alone. I believe they must provided this information. The results should, hopefully, support an appeal.

michael heavey says:
14 January 2021

Hello I’m a driving instructor and got a pcn in December. I was waiting outside a tower block in barking east london for 10 minutes. Until pupil arrived and we left .a fixed camera toke a photo and they said my vehicle was not on there data base I appealed and they refused. Is this roght

If where you parked was a private car park with suitable notices then I expect they were right to penalise you.

What we should be doing is limiting the size of the penalty that is allowed to be imposed. At present I consider them very excessive and verging on extortionate. No consumer body seems at all interested in dealing with this consumer detriment, however.

Tani says:
15 January 2021

Hello I received a parking fine from a private land i have been on that parking from 19 :17 until 19 :22 so just for 5 min top and I did not left the vehicle, just turned around, how can I apeal abot this ?
Any idea ? They send me a £100 fine ??

Tani – the notification you have received should set out your appeal rights and the process.

I fear it will not be cancelled because you entered the controlled area, albeit briefly. Enforcement is carried out by CCTV and contraventions are logged to the minute.

The level of penalty is grossly disproportionate to the gravity of the infringement but that seems to carry no weight in the justice system and does not even appear to inspire much interest among consumer and motoring organisations, nor the wider media, unfortunately.

I’ve been issued a PCN by Lewisham council. The pay by phone service was not working at the time (I tried to ring it twice!). The signs nearby say pay phone only, with no mention of apps. The council are refusing my appeal on the basis of the pay by phone service not being unavailable. I have subsequently found out that the council in response to a freedom of information request said that they would not be issuing PCN’s when the pay by phone service is not working. Is it worth taking the case to the adjudicators?

CK – I responded to your previous comment two days ago – please see: https://conversation.which.co.uk/motoring/parking-fine-penalty-charge-notice-questions/#comment-1616063

You need to be sure it was the council’s payment-by-phone system that was not working at the time rather than your phone not connecting. If you ask them they will probably tell you, then you can decide whether or not to appeal, or if it wasn’t working they might cancel the PCN.

It is a risk parking without paying even if the means to pay appears not to work. Best to park where you can meet the parking conditions. If a pay station is out of order it should be labelled as such.

I suggest you track down the FOI outcome and send a copy with your appeal to have your pcn cancelled.

James says:
17 January 2021

I paid the correct fee, £6, which allowed me to park overnight, I was only staying for three hours. When I returned I had a ticket. The machine had only registered £5 and issued me with a ticket for one hour which cost only £3. There was either a fault with the machine or it rejected one of my coins and I never noticed. My argument is that I obviously wasn’t avoiding payment and had in fact paid the correct amount. The parking company, PPL, say I should have checked the ticket and so it’s my fault. We’re now going to court over it. Any thoughts on my likely success or otherwise would be appreciated.

Could you not have simply appealed, James?

If a coin was rejected you did not pay the full amount. I hope that the machine has registered that you have paid more than £3, which could help your case, but we live in an intolerant world where mistakes are not allowed. Best of luck.

It issued a ticket for £5 which I still have. The warden also took a photo of the £5 ticket. I’ve tried appealing but it was ignored, they simply say the ticket as displayed was incorrect. I don’t know if a coin was rejected or if the machine was faulty. I never noticed a coin being rejected, I just put £6 in and pressed the button.

I hope that common sense will prevail and if you lose in court you could recoup the costs by selling the story to the press.

As I have said before, small mistakes should not be penalised and the high charges reserved for repeat offenders. I once had to pay a charge because the free parking period was reduced from three to two hours, so I now have a mild obsession about making sure I never have to pay again.

Interesting, I hadn’t thought of that avenue.

If you want to get some inexpensive legal advice it might be worth subscribing to Which? Legal: https://legalservice.which.co.uk I hope you will report the outcome here.