Parking fines: what are my rights?

Parking ticket

The right to appeal on parking fines

If you return to your car to find you’ve got a ticket slapped onto your windscreen, you may be filled with a mixture of annoyance and anger. But before you get too indignant, you need to work out whether you are justified in starting proceedings against an unfair ticket.

When can you challenge a ticket?

There are certain circumstances where you may be able to challenge the fine. These include such things as technology faults and unclear signs or markings. That said, there are times when you’ll be bang to rights as far as a ticket is concerned, such as when you’ve parked on a single red or a double yellow line. The same applies if you’ve left your car in an area reserved for permit holders, or if you’ve blocked an entrance, a bus stop, a parking bay or the path of flowing traffic.

In each of these scenarios, even if you did try to appeal, your chances of success would be extremely low. Equally, one further scenario where you may be able to challenge a ticket is on the grounds of mitigating circumstances, such as being ill, or the ticket falling off – but with cases such as these, you need to proceed very carefully, as you may still struggle to get your challenge upheld.

The appeal process

Before starting an appeal process, you should check who your ticket is from. While some tickets are issued by official bodies such as local councils and the police, others are issued by private companies (for more on tickets from private companies see below). If you are convinced the ticket you’ve received from an official body is unfair, the key is to act fast so you can pull together evidence as soon as possible.

You should use the camera on your mobile phone to take photos of unclear signs, as well as pictures of the area surrounding your vehicle. Also ask witnesses for their contact details so you can get in touch with them if needs be a little further down the line. Taking action right away is also important if you want to keep costs down as, generally speaking, if you pay a fine within 14 days, the cost will be halved. That said, it’s usually worth making an informal appeal (the first stage of the appeal process) in the first two weeks as, even if you lose, you may still be given the option of paying the fine at half price within a 14-day period after your appeal was rejected – although this is not guaranteed.

The length of the appeal process will depend on who issued the ticket, but there are generally three stages: an informal appeal, a formal appeal – and then an appeal to the Independent Tribunal. Crucially, if you are thinking about pursuing an appeal, it’s worth noting that even if you manage to get all the way to the final stage, the success rate may be as low as just 50%. Given these odds, you may want to think carefully before you embark on the process, as it can often be long and arduous.

New ‘private ticket’ regulations

From October 1, 2012, new rules came into effect, known as the Protection of Freedom Bill, which change the liability if a vehicle incurs charges while parked on private land. Under the changes, if you were not the driver at the time, and the driver does not pay, you as the keeper become liable for the parking charge notice. This means that private parking companies can now potentially harass the owner of a car for tickets not paid by the driver.

The only exception to this rule is if the keeper clearly identifies who was driving the car at the time. At the same time, you also need to be aware that two very different parking ticket regimes have been in place since October 1, 2012. British Parking Association (BPA) members now operate within what is known as the AOS code, meaning there is a common standard in place – and that motorists have the right to an independent appeal through POPLA (Popla.org.uk). In contrast, private firms which are not BPA members can continue to issue tickets under contract and trespass law as they have done in the past.

With these cases, any disputes must be resolved through the civil court. If you get a ticket from a non-BPA member which you deem unfair, the best approach is to gather your evidence and wait for them to take you to court – and then see if the firm decides on this course of action. Once again, you need to keep an eye out for rogue or unscrupulous tickets and, if in doubt, contact the police. Equally, in a case involving a BPA member, if either party disputes the independent appeal decision, the disputed case can still be taken to civil court. [text-blocks id=cta-banner]

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