Many of us have received parking tickets we feel we shouldn’t have to pay. This is either because you feel the circumstances were unfair, or the ticket was issued by a private company rather than an official body. If you have recently received a ticket like this, how do you fight it?
We are only talking about tickets which are unfair or unofficial. We cannot tell you how to fight legitimate ones. Unfortunately if you do receive a legitimate parking ticket, you are going to have to pay. Official parking fines are there for a reason, if you happen to break to rules then there are penalties for this. There are however, many parking tickets that are issued unfairly or by private companies, and there are ways to fight these.
How do you know if the parking ticket is legitimate
Before we look at unfair tickets, let’s have a look at tickets from private companies. Legitimate tickets will come from official bodies such as the police or councils. See below an image of an official ticket. An official ticket will be called one of three things, either
Fixed Penalty Notice
Excess Charge Notice
Penalty Charge Notice (See below)
As well as the ticket being labeled one of those three names, you should also see the name of the issuing authority. It may use very similar language, but if it doesn’t have these things listed then it is more than likely from a private company. It may come as no surprise that tickets coming from private companies will look very similar to the official ones. It is best to check carefully. There are many variations but a ticket from a private company may look something like below. There is not much difference!
Fighting Private Parking Tickets
Bear in mind that we only want to tell you how to combat unfair or unofficial parking fines. Some parking fines are legitimate and were given to you because you were in the wrong and there is not much we can do for you there.
Now that you have determined that your ticket is from a private company, the first thing you should do is not pay it. If you are planning on fighting a parking ticket it is much easier to dispute this before you have given them money. It can be very difficult to try and claw back money given out. Paying a fine can often mean you have accepted you have done something wrong.
Private companies/landowners can have a legal right to police parking and charge for it. Although private companies may not be able to give out ‘official’ parking times, they have the same legal right as all of us to pursue money owed.
If you feel the ticket is unjustified however, maybe there were no clear signs, a fault in technology etc. Then you are able to fight this.
Don’t treat a parking ticket from a private company as a ‘fine’
It is simply not a fine. They have no official, legal right to fine you, but they will try their best to make it look like they do.
This is how it works, firstly when you enter a privately owned car park, this could be at a hospital maybe or a supermarket etc., you are essentially creating an unspoken contract with whoever owns the land. On the landowners side of the contract they are allowing you to park on their land if you follow their conditions, which would be paying for parking usually, or not staying there over a specified period of time. On most occasions you would follow these conditions, but if you leave without paying or park longer than you should have, then the landowners will argue you broke a contract and then issue you with a ticket. However this does not mean they can dish out tickets whenever they want. For them to win this case they would need to take you to court regarding a contract dispute. If you are in the wrong they can win the case, but they cannot legally force you to pay this ‘fine’ before this happens.
Report unfair tickets to the landowner
Usually the landowner would hire a firm to police their parking, for example the landowner could be a supermarket, and if you explain to them how you received an unfair parking ticket they may look at it themselves and cancel it. They do have a reputation to keep! There have been examples of people spending hundreds of pounds in supermarkets then coming out to find that they have a ticket, the supermarket would usually cancel the ticket as they would not want to lose a good customer. Going to the landowner first may potentially be the quickest way of fighting a ticket.
Gather as much evidence as you can
It is best to do this when you are still at the parking location. Photographs are the best form of evidence. For example it could be that you received a ticket at 19:10 but there is a sign that states you can park for free after 19:00. It would be crucial to get evidence of this. If possible you can also try and get signed witness statements from anyone that might have seen the incident and can state you were acting within the rules. It is also best to keep any correspondence from the private company, keeping copies of anything you have received and sent off.
Challenging private parking tickets
There are different approaches to tackling unfair private parking tickets. Some we recommend and some that we don’t. The first thing to do is to check whether the private company that issued you a ticket is part of a trade body. This could be with the British Parking Association (BPA) or the International Parking Community (IPC).
What to do if the company is a member of a trade body
The ticket you have received should say if the company is a member of a trade body. If they are a member of a trade body then we recommend that you take the official appeals approach. This is the most risk-free approach to take, and also the easiest. This approach also means that you will not end up in a courtroom, unless of course you refuse to pay after losing the appeal.
Before your appeal goes through the trade body you will need to appeal with the private parking company first. Your parking ticket should have details on how to do this, and the address to send it to. You would need to write the reason why you believe the ticket is unfair, there could be many reasons for this but you need to outline exactly why you are disputing this.
If your appeal directly to the private firm was unsuccessful then you will need to appeal through whichever trade body the firm is a member of, either the BPA or the IPC. If you did gather any evidence such as photographs then it is best to include them in your appeal to give yourself a greater chance of success.
If you do then lose this appeal then you will be told you need to pay the fine within 14 days. Of course if you still disagree with this decision you can refuse to pay as the only option they would have is to take you to court and there is a good chance they won’t do that. Of course, there is a risk though so it’s your decision if you would pay or not. It is worth bearing in mind though that the court will take into account that you have already lost an appeal with the trade body so it would not be easy to win in court.
Another option you have is to not go through the appeals process and simply write to the private company and tell them that you are simply not paying the fine. There is a chance that they will take you to court but there is also a chance that the problem will then disappear. There is no guaranteed way of winning this, we are giving you some options and you would need to weigh up yourself what action you wish to take.
What to do is the private company is not a member of a trade body
In this circumstance it may be slightly easier to fight the ticket. The best option in this case is to write to them and inform them you will not be paying the fine, and to include the reasons why not and any evidence you have gathered. There is also the risk they can take you to court but there is a good chance they won’t. This is a perfectly reasonable approach. This company has made a decision to not become a member of a trade body and that decision has left you with fewer options to take.
Whatever you decide to do, just make sure you are fighting this ticket as you feel you have been wronged in some way. Legitimate parking fines are there for a good reason. Going forward always make sure you are aware of the rules wherever you park your vehicle.