Updated on 23 April 2012.
We all know the sinking feeling you get when you find you've been given a parking ticket- especially when you only left your car for 5 minutes, or you know you're parking in a valid space.
Parking fines in London are fixed at either £80, £100, or £120 depending on where you park. Outside of London they range from £40 to £60. Many of us will grudgingly pay these charges, but if you honestly believe that you didn't deserve to be fined, you may be able to appeal and have your ticket withdrawn.
First you should consider whether appealing against your ticket is truly the best course of action. Most parking tickets will drop to half the charged amount if paid within 14 days, so you may prefer to just pay off your ticket as soon as possible and be done with it.
Also, bear in mind that if you don't pay the fine and decide to appeal against it, it's generally impossible to get a refund later on or even have your fine halved. What's more, if your appeal is unsuccessful, your fine will be increased by 50%.
If you still want to go ahead with your appeal, you'll have to decide what grounds you have for appealing.
When requesting to have your parking ticket overturned, your case will be most convincing if it falls into one of the following legal grounds:
In the first instance you'll need to send a letter to your local council explaining why you think the fine was issued incorrectly. Outline in detail your reasons for appealing, and include as much evidence as possible to support your case. This could include photocopies of your parking tickets and receipts, witness statements, and photos. Send the letter as soon as possible after receiving your parking ticket.
Your council may at that point simply accept your grounds for appealing and withdraw the charge. This happens in more than half of the cases where parking tickets are challenged.
Otherwise, the council will reject your appeal and send you a Notice to Owner form. You'll then have 14 days to make formal representations, which means you'll have to fill in the provided form with detailed reasons for appealing against the fine.
At this point the council may accept your formal representations and withdraw the fine. If they do not accept them, they will send you a Notice of Rejection of Representation and an Appeal Notice form.
From that date you'll have 28 days to lodge your appeal with the Parking Adjudication Service if you live in London, or the Traffic Penalty Tribunal if you live elsewhere in the UK. These bodies are independent from local councils and will make the final decision on your case.
You will be sent a formal acknowledgement informing you that your appeal has been received and registered. You may have to attend a hearing, but you'll have the choice between a postal or personal hearing.
A postal hearing will mean that your case is decided without you present, and you'll be notified by post when this happens. If you prefer, you can appear in court to argue your case. You'll be given 21 days' notice telling you where and when your hearing will be held.
You will then receive a decision from the adjudicators on your case. If you are successful you will have your fine withdrawn and not have to pay penny. However, the flip-side is that if your appeal is unsuccessful, your fine will now be increased by 50%.
My car had been taken without my consent
If you are appealing on the grounds that your vehicle had been stolen when the offence occurred, you'll need to provide a crime reference number with your appeal. The car must have been reported stolen when the contravention occurred.
Even if the car was taken by a friend or member of family, you'll still be held liable for the fine. As fines are always directed to the owner of the vehicle, who will be registered with the DVLA, it is the owner who will receive the penalty notice even if they were not present at the time.
I have been fined more than is necessary
If your fine is more than £120 and you live in London, and more than £60 if you live outside London, you may have been charged in error. Contact your council to establish why your fine is more than the expected amount. If there is no valid reason for this you may be able to appeal on the grounds that have you have been fined an excessive amount.
I was sent a parking ticket through the post
If you received a parking ticket through the post rather than fixed to your car, it should be accompanied by photographic evidence that the contravention occurred. Check the photo carefully to see if it proves beyond doubt that the alleged offence was committed. If you aren't supplied with a photograph, you may be able to argue that the offence did not occur.
Information is missing from my parking ticket
If any of the following details have been omitted from your ticket, you can appeal on the grounds that the ticket is invalid:
I didn't know that I wasn't allowed to park there
This is one instance where pleading ignorance can be valid grounds for appealing. Councils must provide clear signs on every road entering a restricted parking area informing you of the parking rules.
If there were no signs present, or if you didn't see them because they were too small, faded, or obscured by trees etc, you can argue that the signs were not visible enough. Sending photos of these signs along with your appeal can act as convincing evidence.
The parking bay was too small for me to park in
To appeal on these grounds you'll need to provide measurements. All parking bays must be at least 1.62m wide from the edge of the kerb to the outer edge of the white line. If the bay you tried to park in is narrower than this, send photos of the bay with your appeal to support your argument.
I was unloading my car/making a delivery at the time
This argument will only hold sway if you were parked on a single yellow line and were within the 20 minute loading limit. If you were making a commercial delivery, include the delivery note with your appeal for evidence. Otherwise supply a witness statement from the person you were delivering to, which will help to support your argument.
My pay-and-display ticket fell off my car
If you bought a pay-and-display ticket but it fell off your car after you left it, you may be slapped with a fine. Usually this is difficult to appeal against as it is the car-owner's responsibility to ensure the ticket is displayed correctly. However, you might want to try writing to the council and explaining what happened - and be sure to enclose a photocopy of your ticket for evidence.
Written by Sally at money.co.uk
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