Did you park on council land or on private land managed by a company?
Parking tickets are often confusing as both public and private tickets are a PCN and are yellow chequered.
A Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) is issued by a local authority and a Parking Charge Notice (PCN) is issued by a private parking operator. Some local authorities may issue Excess Charge Notices (ECN) depending on the legislation they are working under.
It is not recommended to ignore a parking ticket as it can go to a debt recovery company and then court. Please see the guidance below for more information on how to appeal a ticket if you feel it has been wrongly issued.
Penalty Charges issued by local authorities
If your first appeal is rejected by the local authority, you can appeal to an independent adjudication service. The Notice of Rejection will contain the information and application form required for this process. Independent adjudication services are independent tribunals where lawyers consider appeals. The names to look out for are:
- London: London Tribunals
- England and Wales (outside London): Traffic Penalty Tribunal
- Northern Ireland: Courts and Tribunals Service
- Scotland: The Parking and Bus Lane Tribunal for Scotland, 0131 221 0409 (no website available). For more information and an address please see mygov.scot
Traffic Enforcement Centre (TEC)
Traffic Enforcement Centre (TEC), is a registration point for local authorities (LAs) that have de-criminalised on-street parking charges.
Vehicle emission penalties, London Road User Charging (Congestion Charging) and Bus Lane Encroachment penalties for London Boroughs are also recovered through TEC.
More about TEC. View a list of FAQS
Parking in a privately owned or managed car park
Private off-street parking is generally governed by the law of contract. If you park in a private off-street area and do not adhere to the rules the operators have advertised on local signs and notices, you may be issued with a Parking Charge Notice. An Approved Operator will give you time to assess the advertised rules, known as terms and conditions, and you are free to leave the parking area if you disagree with them. If you stay then you will have legally agreed to abide by them.
If the private operator is registered with an Accredited Trade Association (ATA) it will be possible to have an independent appeal. If the car park is in England or Wales and the operator is a member of the BPA then this appeal will be heard at POPLA (Parking on Private Land Appeals).
Please note that POPLA is not available in Scotland or Northern Ireland. You may have other statutory rights regarding Alternative Dispute Resolution; the company which issued the parking ticket will tell you more about their scheme.
1Private parking operators must be registered with an Accredited Trade Association (ATA) to offer an independent appeals service. Each ATA provides its own Independent Appeals Service. Only private parking operators in the British Parking Association’s Approved Operator Scheme can offer POPLA. POPLA appeals are free to motorists and funded by BPA Approved Operators.
Most drivers issued with a parking ticket have the right to contest it, but the process varies depending where and when it was issued and by whom.
You MUST follow the process as outlined in the ticket received and decide whether to accept the charge or appeal. If you decide to appeal, contact the local authority or organisation who issued the Penalty Charge or Parking Charge telling them why you think the charge should be cancelled. If they agree, that is the end of the matter. If they reject your representations or appeal, they will tell you what you can do next. You will normally be given information about an independent appeals service.
To help with your decision on whether to appeal your ticket, all the information you need is printed on the ticket; name and address of the issuer, the charge amount(s) and the time limit in which to appeal. Use the flow chart below to decide how you then wish to proceed.
Parking Charge Notices Issued in Scotland or Northern Ireland
For Parking Charge Notices, issued on private land in Scotland and Northern Ireland POPLA is unfortunately not currently available. Therefore once your appeal has been rejected by the private company there is no further appeals process. The matter can be contested in court once it has gone past referral to a debt recovery company and the private company managing the land then takes the matter to Court.
Excess Charge Notices (ECN)
You should follow the process as outlined on the ticket received and decide whether to accept the charge or appeal. A discount may apply if you pay or appeal the ECN within a certain number of days.
If you decide to appeal, contact the local authority or organisation that issued the ECN. There is no defined procedure, it is at the organisations discretion as to within how many days you should appeal.
To satisfy audit requirements, and to ensure that these are considered consistently, all appeals must be made in writing. Details of whether the appeal can be submitted by post, email or online, should be on the ECN.
Upon receipt of your appeal the organisation will review the circumstances of your challenge against the evidence provided and that obtained when the ECN was issued. The organisation will then decide whether to approve your appeal and will let you know the outcome in writing (by letter or email).
If the organisation rejects your appeal and you would still like to dispute the ECN, the local authority can pursue you for payment through the relevant local courts, such as a Magistrates’ or Sheriffs’ Court where you can further dispute the ECN. The court appearance is for the registered keeper of the vehicle unless they provide evidence of transfer of liability to another party (for example the driver).
What the law says
The Court of Appeal in April 2015 dismissed an appeal brought by Barry Beavis, against Parking Eye and in doing so confirmed that in general the operation and management of parking on private land, the associated charges, and legal context are legitimate, proportionate and fair.
Their Lordships accepted that landowners do have the right to manage their land, impose charges at a level which deters motorists from overstaying or not complying with published terms and conditions and allows the car park to be managed effectively and that Parliament has endorsed this principle in the Protection of Freedoms Act.
The Court of Appeal did not consider a parking charge of £85 issued by a private parking company as unenforceable or unfair, since it was not extravagant or unconscionable and compares with those charges applied by local authorities in similar circumstances. The Appeal Court all accepted that the parking charge made in this case was not a penalty but a deterrent, and the issue of genuine pre-estimate of loss is not relevant.