/ 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 recently parked in a NCP car park and paid the £9 to stay for the day. I however forgot the time and returned 30 minutes late to my car. They have a camera taking times of entry and exit, so knew. I have now been sent a fine of £60 for 30 mins. I feel as though this is excessive and I have asked if I can pay for the half hour, but they gave me a payment plan instead. Is there anything I can do, as I did pay, but as the time was on the ticket, I was unsure of time paid up to?

Hi Shazzza,

One of the things you can do is ask them for a breakdown on the loss due to you over staying. There is more information here on how to appeal a parking ticket on private land.


Ive been issued with a fine for not paying for my car to be parked quickly enough. I payed for a 3 hour session and was finished and out of the car park with in the 3 hours. I have evidence on my phone that I tried to make a payment but incorrectly entered the text details. Then did correctly enter them. They want to charge me £160. And say that I am no longer able to discuss it with them. That this will go to court. Do I have a case to appeal?

Becky – you seem to have taken all reasonable steps to pay, including actually paying, so I think it is ridiculous to expect you to pay a £160 fine here. Hence I think you must appeal.

I hope that this matter won’t need to go to court and could be resolved before that by appropriate letters to the car park operator. If necessary, you may find that Which? Legal can help with this (but you do have to subscribe to get their help). But, for peace of mind, that might be a good investment.

Hi Becky,

I am sorry to hear about your issue with regards to this parking charge notice.

In these circumstances we would suggest that consumers gather as much evidence as possible in order to draft an appeal to the party which issued the notice. This could be a private parking company or the local authority. You should have been offered the opportunity to appeal internally first, if this appeal is rejected then you should be offered another opportunity to appeal to an independent body which will once again depend on the party which issued the notice.

If the debt has escalated up to £160 then presumably this matter has been passed on to a debt collection agency. If the debt remains unpaid then if the local authority issued the notice it could directly be dealt with in the County Court and you will only be notified of the outcome without being present. If a private parking company issued the notice then this matter may once again be escalated to the County but you will have the opportunity to defend it in person. Any County Court action will have associated costs.

I hope this helps. Which? Legal members are entitled to tailored legal advice on a wide range of legal issues and if this is something that may be of interest please do contact us on 0117 456 6020 for further information.

Evgeni Hristov

Legal Adviser – Which? Legal.

Lakhbir Singh says:
14 May 2019

I was at a patrol station to use the cash point and park in a bay…. I was approximately there for 5mins and when to work for the duration of my shift 10hrs and parked vehicle at my work in a secure car park. I received a parking notice stating I was at the patrol station for 10hrs and overstayed. What do I do in term of proof?

Hi Lakhbir,
Does your work secure car park have CCTV?

You could try asking for photos of your car entering and leaving the car park if they have them.

You could also ask for proof that you were at the petrol station for 10 hours.

Petrol stations will also have CCTV so you can ask for a copy of their recording.

I have had this happen to me when I went to a car park twice in one day. Some times the registration recognition doesn’t pick up people leaving. Does your work car park register who comes in? Would someone be able to write and confirm you parked there for you?

Iv had a £100 fine for parking in Woodall services which I was unaware you had to pay if your there over 2 hours I was there for 2 hours 9 minutes!!!

Were you parked for 2 hours 9 minutes or simply on site for 2 hours and 9 minutes?

Hi James,

Here is our guide to appealing parking tickets on private land.


Barry G Theobald says:
17 May 2019

I parked in a disabled bay in Northway Rickmansworth with my son who has MS and returned with him to find a PCN on the windscreen, My sons blue badge was within the car and the time was approximately 30 mins. I have already sent the letter of chalenge at least 10 days ago.

[This comment has been edited to remove all capitals in line with the community guidelines. https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/ ]

Good luck with the challenge! Do let us know how it goes.

I recently got a parking charge sent through the post for £60 for parking in a restaurant’s car park, I was only in the car park for 11 minutes and it was outside of the restaurant’s business hours. Am I correct in thinking, if they don’t want people to use the car park when the business is not open then they should put a barrier up or something to prevent you from gaining access. Anyone know if this is correct, help greatly appreciated

Hi Shaun,

Is there well lit adequate signage in the car park warning people of hours you can park there?

M M says:
18 May 2019

Hi there. I’ve received a Parking Charge Notice by Smart Parking for £90.00 for overstaying by 44 minutes, which was due to breakdown on the London Underground. How do I go about this? I’ve appealed, and they’ve held their ground. Maybe I need to do a more formal appeal?

I doubt you would succeed as you contravened your contract, whatever the cause. You can only rely on their goodwill, I’d suggest.

I’d like to see aggrieved parkers try to get the law changed so that such extortionate penalty charges would no longer be permitted. Ask Which? to campaign for this perhaps?

Hi MM,

You might struggle with the parking charge but you may have more luck with claiming compensation from TfL. You could try a claim under the Consumer Right’s Act. We have more information and template letters on the website.


Hi I received a letter from a debt company chasing a payment for a Parking Charge Notice that i hadnt received I sent them an email telling them i had not received a PCN letter from their client. They insist I still owe the money. Should I appeal?

Hi Noorie,

I am sorry to hear of the letter you have received from the debt collectors.

If a debt collection company is chasing payment for a parking charge notice it is important to tell them that you contest the debt. Further, I would always recommend consumers to check the registration of that vehicle and make certain it is at your current address, as most parking organisations will send letters to the address on the DVLA register.

It is important to lodge an appeal with the issuer of the ticket. However, if they reject the appeals then they may take you to court. If the ticket was issued by a private car parking company then they would have to take you to the small claims track of the county court.

I hope this helps. Which? Legal members are entitled to tailored legal advice on a wide range of legal issues and if this is something that may be of interest please do contact us on 0117 456 6020 for further information.

Thomas Holloway – Legal Adviser

Marie says:
22 May 2019

I received a parking charge notice for parking on Iceland’s land. I appealed this and they have replied stating that I still need to pay. Do I appeal again. What happens if they reject another appeal. How long will this go for.

My question is
Is POPLA appeal a scam, has anyone appealed and been approved,
I supplied evidence for which they chose to ( I am unable to conclude with certainty)
So we appeal, lose the so called discount because you appealingly,
I now have a £100 quid to pay for apparently 12 mins over, disgraceful, oh and the car park was empty also the shop was closed,
This is so wrong,

Hi Phil,

I am sorry to hear about your experience with Parking on Private Land Appeals Scheme (POPLA).

POPLA is run by the Ombudsman Services (who operate the Energy Ombudsman scheme, Communications Ombudsman scheme and Property Ombudsman scheme to name a few). I have put below some figures that they publish annually.

POPLA decided upon 50,082 appeals between 1 October 2017 and 30 September 2018. Of these, 11,447 appeals were decided in favour of the consumer, with the remaining 38,635 against. There were also 15,562 appeals where the parking operator did not contest the appeal, meaning 27,009 parking charges were cancelled. This represents 41% of decisions in favour of the consumer.

Therefore I would say that POPLA is categorically not a scam, but I am sure that, as with any ombudsman, mistakes are made. If your appeal was denied then the parking company could take you to court if you do not pay the £100.

I hope this helps. Which? Legal members are entitled to tailored legal advice on a wide range of legal issues and if this is something that may be of interest please do contact us on 0117 456 6020 for further information.

Thomas Holloway

Legal Adviser

Glynis Davis says:
24 May 2019

I parked in an hotel car park with a pre paid ticket for a swim which included a 3 hours parking. I asked in reception how to pay for the parking and was informed that it’s free of charge for 3 hours. It was included on the swim ticket. A few weeks later I received a parking ticket for £100. I’ve contested it but they keep insisting that I must pay!

H Glynis,

As you have used the official appeal process for the car park company it is now time to make a formal appeal. You can find out here more about this process. https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/how-to-appeal-a-parking-ticket-on-private-land#make-a-formal-appeal

Good luck with the appeal!

I appealed against Parking Eye saying I had paid my ticket asking them to check if I had entered the correct registration. They upheld the appeal saying that I had entered the wrong registration but would offer a discount to £20. I contacted the landowner and they have emailed me back saying they have requested Parking Eye cancel the charge and for Parking Eye to confirm this directly with me. 10 fays later and Parking Eye have sent me nothing…what do I do next?

James Parkin says:
26 May 2019

I parked in a shopping centre car park for 20 minutes on leaving g I paid the fee which amounted to 70 pence 6 days later I received a demand for £60
I emailed the company saying I had paid they asked me to produce the ticket
Not possible when I arrived at home I threw the ticket away now I have a solicitors letter threatening court action
Who saves parking tickets for 6 days after paying the charge ?

I suggest that you ask them for proof that you didn’t pay.

Whatever, £60 is an extortionate amount to be penalised. I suggest you ask Which? to campaign for acceptable parking penalties.

David Miller says:
27 May 2019

I got a parking ticket for loading on private land. POPLA told me it was my responsibility to get a parking permit. There is no mention on the signs you need to get a parking permit to load. You can see they accept you can load on the premises.

Cg says:
28 May 2019

I received demand for £160 on Christmas Eve from a non payment of a parking ticket issued in Kings Lynn in Oct! I live in Morecambe. I had moved house and though I had updated driving licence address, I forgot reg doc, so immediately did this. I phoned and emailed NCP to explain and asked for evidence after checking numerous websites. I presumed this was some sort of scam.
Over the last few months I have received numerous letters from different debt collection agencies all of which I have kept. Each time I explained I have never been to Kings Lynn, yet within a few weeks a new agency would send threatening letters and the process would start again.
My concern is bwlegal, the latest agency to contact me with a claim form. They want more money and are more intimidating so I have some concerns, especially after reading about their tactics online. They will not listen to my concerns and just say I will have to explain myself in court. Where do I go from here?

If you have not been to King’s Lynn the company will not win their case by taking you to court. If it is alleged that you have contravened regulations in parking on private land you would have to be notified within 14 days to the alleged offence, not months afterwards. See section 6.2 of this document: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/9155/guidance-unpaid-parking-charges.pdf Perhaps you could make a claim for harassment. 🙂

Ali says:
28 May 2019

I received a letter from court a few days ago demanding I pay for the 5 parking tickets I received around 7-9 years ago. These were given to me on different cars iv had in past few years. And some of these parking tickets are on cars which I was the owner of, it’s a family member.
Is there a time limit the court can ask me to pay for these tickets. It’s been so many years and I’m sure I would have played it off back then, theres no way I can check

I am being threatened with court proceedings by a Debt collector for not paying a parking fine from July 2017. I have evidence, on my my bank statement, that I paid the Parking Charges, at the time. However the Parking company, Brittania Parking, didn’t have the registration number, of the vehicle I was using and at no time was I asked for it. Fortunately, I have witnesses who are willing to stand, in a court of law and testify for me. What should I do?

Wendy Jotcham says:
2 June 2019

I have received a Parking Charge Notice from NCP. I parked for an hour and paid, but I now see (I have found the ticket) that I entered a 0 instead of an O in the registration number. I guess this is why they think I haven’t paid. Is there any point in appealing? Given that it’s a Parking Charge rather than a Penalty Notice, what’s the worst that can happen?

Dawn Mullane says:
6 June 2019

I’m in the same situation. I appealed and they said I didnt follow the instructions. They took my £2.50 , I have proof on my bank statement . But now want £100! I cant get through to a human being. All automated. As I payed over the phone, I didnt get a ticket to display. So therefore could not display a ticket, which is the reason they’ve used to fine me?
So frustrating.

nirmal sagoo says:
3 June 2019

From nirmal singh sagoo ..Isleworth Middlesex.
On 28th march 2019 it was my 65th birthday , and I was attending an East African Asian Senior Citizens association group meeting in the Southall dominion hall the green.
As I am also medically registered male , I suffer from a lot of medical problems and I have to take several prescribed medicines from the time I have breakfast and so on.
I can sometimes be forgetful and in the anxiety or depression mood with these medicines on some days . I was excited on this day with my birthday .The disabled bays were full in the Featherstone terrace car park(Southall ) and I accidently reversed in a electric vehicles place , which looked similar to the disabled places but had not been seen on reversing by me on the long metal signboard or the charging machine.
There had been no other warning signs as you approach the area.
Even when I returned to go home , there was nothing to be seen.
Me and my wife drove to [edited by moderator] Hounslow and we didn’t see anything on the screen.
It was only in the evening, when my son and his family came to dinner for my birthday that he accidently saw the parking fine receipt stuck in the v shape gap of our car screen and the back bonnet.
I thought I got it in Hounslow, but on reading it was as above in Southall Featherstone road car park.
I appealed on the grounds that my medical state, my birthday excitement and not been seen on reversing .
And send recorded delivery letter. but got no replies.
A few weeks later I resend a 1st class same copies. but got no replies.
And a month later I got a set of detailed letter pictures and full fine of £110.00 to be paid in a month.
Meanwhile there was an email on the parking fine letter and I emailed a few times and accidently found a London borough of Ealing parking official site to appeal etc which I did a few times but no replies came.
This really annoyed me and I was already a heart and high blood pressure patient and was very upset.
I rewrote a polite letter again and send by recorded delivery but nothing came and I wrote few emails again but no replies.
I got so fed up that I paid £110.00 which I think is too much to pay as the council’s parking fine department didn’t bother about my request and all that hard work I did , explaining.
#It seems any public person has no right to appeal.
They clearly say in their letter and on their website that they give you a decision of what to do next , instead of what and how they treated me.
I think a public customer or individual has a right to know from their appeal on the decision.
I think they overcharged me £55.00 as not letting me know within 14 days of my appeal in writing.

I parked in a local town centre car park so as to obtain medication/ointment for an eye condition. Whilst driving into the car park I was unable to see the parking restrictions or directions as I struggled to see clearly. Once the ointment had helped, I went back to my car and left. Later I received a notice saying I had not displayed a ticket for 3 hours free parking. The appeal was overturned almost immediately. I am considering my day in court to explain the circumstances as I feel I have been ignored. Is this a good idea?

Rei says:
6 June 2019

No, as you should not have been driving in the first place if you were not able to see clearly even if it was a temporary condition, just giving a heads up that you may get into bigger trouble if you use that as an excuse at court

It will be a civil court not a criminal court. This is a civil matter