• What You Need to Know About Appealing a PCN in the UK

    What You Need to Know About Appealing a PCN in the UK

    Have you been issued a parking ticket and you’re not quite sure what comes next? Don’t panic, we’re here to help. Did you know that as many as 20,000 parking tickets are issued every day here in the UK? That’s a staggering amount!

    However, the knowledge that you’re not the only one receiving a PCN probably isn’t really that comforting. Today we’re going to talk about what a PCN is and the types of tickets it represents, whether you need to pay it straight away, how to make a solid appeal, and information about what might happen if you ignore the ticket altogether. Let’s get to it!

    How many types of parking ticket (PCN) are there?

    Two. The type of PCN you’ve been issued will affect your next steps, especially if you’re planning to appeal your PCN. You’ll either be issued a penalty charge notice (PCN) or a parking charge notice (PCN).

    Note that both types of tickets have the same acronym of PCN. It’s believed that private parking companies named their parking tickets with the same acronym to confuse motorists into paying for their parking ticket, but more on that later. First, let’s explain the difference between the two.

    What’s a penalty charge notice?

    A penalty charge notice is a parking ticket that’s issued to you when you commit minor parking contraventions on land that’s owned by the council. It’s important to note that a penalty charge notice is an enforceable fine.

    You’ll receive a penalty charge notice in one of three ways:

    1. Handed to you by a parking attendant employed by the council (they have the right to do this)
    2. Left on your vehicle (usually the windshield)
    3. Sent through the post (the issuing council will request your details from the DVLA)

    The council that’s issuing the penalty charge notice has 28 days from the date of the alleged offence to issue you with a PCN. You then need to decide whether you’re going to pay, appeal, or ignore the PCN altogether.

    Note – we would not recommend ignoring the PCN!

    You’ll have 28 days to make this decision before further action is taken, which we’ll talk about in detail later.

    What’s a parking charge notice?

    A parking charge notice is a parking ticket that’s been issued to you for breaking parking rules on privately owned land. A parking charge notice is not enforceable, and can be treated as more of an invoice for the time being. This is why it’s believed that private parking companies named their “ticket” the same as an enforceable fine – to scare motorists into paying!

    A parking charge notice only becomes enforceable if the landowner or private parking operator decides to take you to court.

    You’ll receive a parking charge notice in one of three ways:

    1. Handed to you by a parking attendant employed by the landowner or private parking operator (they have the right to do this)
    2. Left on your vehicle (usually the windshield)
    3. Sent through the post

    Note that private parking companies can only send you a PCN through the post if they are a member of an Accredited Trade Association (ATA). If they are not, they will be unable to legally request your details from the DVLA or anywhere else to send you a PCN. 

    You can check if a parking company is a member of an ATA by calling the International Parking Community (IPC) or the British Parking Association (BPA).

    If they are not a member of an ATA, it’s pretty safe to say that you could ignore the fine because once you’ve left their car park, you won’t hear from them again! However, most private parking companies are now a member of an ATA, but it’s definitely worth checking!

    If you’ve been issued a parking charge notice, then the time limit is different. If the parking ticket has “Protection of Freedoms Act” written on it, the landowner or private parking operator must issue the fine within 14 days of the alleged contravention.

    Not only that, if you don’t respond to a parking charge notice that’s been left on your vehicle, the private parking operator only has another 56 days to send you another one to your home address. But, these time limits don’t apply if the “Protection of Freedoms Act” isn’t stated anywhere on the ticket. It’s important to know this because you might not have to pay!

    Citizen’s Advice says:

    1. You can appeal that it’s unfair to ask you to pay for a parking charge notice if it’s seven or more months late, and
    2. If the parking charge notice doesn’t include “Protection of Freedoms Act” anywhere on it.

    You now have 28 days to decide whether to pay, appeal, or ignore the parking charge notice. While a parking charge notice isn’t enforceable at this stage, we don’t recommend ignoring one as it could quickly escalate!

    Where can you legally park in the UK?

    One of the biggest reasons motorists are issued with parking tickets is because it’s not always clear where you can and can’t park. Thankfully, the RAC have published a comprehensive guide on where you can and can’t park in the UK, along with useful information about fines and why there are sometimes restrictions in place. We recommend checking it out!

    What happens if you don’t pay your PCN?

    The type of fine you’ve been issued will dictate the answer to this question. Let’s break it down into each type of ticket again.

    What happens if I don’t pay my penalty charge notice?

    It’s never wise to avoid paying or ignore a penalty charge notice because it is an enforceable fine. This means that ignoring your PCN could make your fine grow bigger, lead to court action, or even result in bailiffs coming to your home! Don’t worry, there are steps beforehand, and we’ll explain them now.

    1. Charge certificate

    If you don’t pay your penalty charge notice within 28 days of it being issued, you’ll then receive what’s known as a charge certificate. When this happens, you’ve been given 14 more days to pay your fine. Don’t take this as a win though, as your fine will have increased by 50% on top of the original fine.

    1. Court order

    If you still don’t pay your PCN after receiving a charge certificate, the issuing authority could then choose to start legal action. They can now ask a judge for a court order, which will legally force you to pay the fine. This process is also known as an order of recovery, and gives you a further 21 days to clear your fine.

    1. Bailiffs 

    If you still choose to ignore your court order, the issuing authority then has permission to use further enforcement, such as bailiffs. Don’t be fooled into thinking they won’t, because it has happened before! The bailiffs could turn up at your door asking for money or to repossess belongings to clear the debt you owe.

    What happens if I don’t pay my parking charge notice?

    Even though a parking charge notice isn’t an enforceable fine, it’s never a good idea to ignore it – the problem won’t simply go away! Private parking operators are renowned for being relentless when it comes to recovering fines that are owed to them, and there have been many cases where motorists have been taken to court to recover a fine they owe.

    If you are taken to court by the private parking operator and they win their case (they’re likely to), you’ll then get a court order which legally forces you to pay the fine. If you still choose to ignore the fine, it could negatively affect your credit score and be on your credit report for six years!

    Not only that, but the private parking company can then ask the judge to use more enforcement such as bailiffs.

    However, there have been cases where because the fine owed is such a small amount, the private parking company or landowner choose not to pursue the fine legally. Just remember that it’s not unheard of, so you might be better off not testing whether they’ll follow through with their legal threats!

    Can I appeal against my PCN?

    Yes, you can appeal against your PCN regardless of what kind of PCN you’ve been issued! However, there is a different appeals process for each type of PCN. We’ve detailed the process below.

    How to appeal a penalty charge notice

    If you think your parking ticket (PCN) was issued by mistake, you can appeal to the local council that issued it. If your appeal is successful, the fine will be cancelled. Just remember, you need to appeal within 28 days from the date on the ticket.

    It’s important to know which council issued your PCN. If you got the ticket in a different area from where you live, you’ll need to appeal to the correct council, not the one where you reside.

    Here are a few more things to keep in mind:

    If the PCN was left on your car, you should first make an informal appeal to the local council. Do this within 14 days of getting the ticket. You can send them a letter or find their contact details on their website. If your informal appeal is rejected, you can still make a formal appeal.

    If the PCN came in the mail, you can’t make an informal appeal. Instead, you need to go straight to a formal appeal, which must be done within 28 days from the ticket date.

    To make a formal appeal, write a letter explaining why you think the PCN is wrong. Include any evidence you have, like photos of unclear signs or road markings. Make sure to include your address, car registration number, and the PCN number.

    Appealing to the council might seem intimidating, but it’s not as hard as it seems. You have 28 days to make a formal appeal. Your letter, also known as a representation letter, should detail why you’re appealing and include all your evidence.

    There are many valid reasons to appeal a PCN, so know your rights before paying the fine!

    After you submit your formal appeal, the council has 56 days to respond. If they don’t get back to you in that time, you’ve won by default and don’t have to pay the fine.

    How to appeal a parking charge notice

    Unlike a penalty charge notice, appealing a parking charge notice has a slightly different process. First, contact the parking operator, which might be the landowner or a parking management company. Explain why you’re appealing and ask them to cancel the ticket. This is called an informal appeal. And, unlike a penalty charge notice, you cannot make a formal appeal to the parking ticket company.

    Make sure to provide as much evidence as you can, like pictures of unclear signs or documents showing you sold the car before the ticket date.

    As you can see below, this motorist is wondering if they can appeal because the signage wasn’t near the space she parked. It’s always worth checking as it might get you out of paying for a PCN!

    Source: Money Saving Expert

    After you submit your appeal, the parking company or landowner has 56 days to review it and decide. They’ll let you know if they accept or reject your appeal. If you win, the ticket is canceled, and you’re done.

    If they don’t respond within 56 days, you automatically win! You can then decide to pay the fine or take your appeal further.

    How do I write an appeal letter?

    Writing an appeal letter doesn’t have to be scary or confusing. In fact, it needs a few simple details, such as:

    1. Your name and address
    2. The PCN number (located at the top of your parking ticket)
    3. Your vehicle registration number
    4. The date the PCN was issued
    5. Valid reason(s) for appealing the PCN
    6. As much evidence as possible to back up your claim

    The appeal letter doesn’t need to have fancy wording or anything like that, but if you’re worried about how to format your letter, we’ve created a free and easy to use parking ticket appeal letter template.

    Free Parking Ticket Appeal Letter Download

    What are some great excuses for appealing a parking ticket?

    It doesn’t matter what kind of parking ticket you’ve been issued, when it comes to appealing a PCN, there are lots of great reasons for appealing that will be considered! We’ve actually written an in-depth article containing 11 loopholes that might get your out of paying for your parking ticket, but here are some of the most common and successful excuses for appeals:

    1. Parking ticket machine was out of order
    2. Unclear signage
    3. You parked correctly
    4. You weren’t given a grace period
    5. You paid for your parking

    You might not even realise that you have grounds for appeal, so we definitely recommend checking out the best excuses for parking ticket appeals!

    What happens if my appeal is rejected?

    Again, your next steps will depend on what kind of parking ticket you’ve been issued.

    If your formal appeal against a penalty charge notice is rejected, you’ll receive a ‘notice of rejection‘ and get another 28 days to pay the fine in full. Alternatively, you can take your formal appeal to an independent tribunal. The details of how you can take your appeal further will be included.

    If your parking charge notice appeal is rejected, you can still take it further with a formal appeal. You’ll need to ask an independent tribunal to review your case. There are two independent groups you can use:

    1. Independent Appeals Service (IAS)
    2. Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA)

    Which group you use depends on the private parking company’s association:

    1. Use the Independent Appeals Service (IAS) if the company is a member of the International Parking Community.
    2. Use Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA) if the company is a member of the British Parking Association.

    Can I challenge a court order?

    Yes, but you’ll need to do it pretty quickly after the court date. You have 21 days to appeal the decision of the court, and you can only appeal if any of these apply to you:

    1. Your PCN has already been fully paid
    2. You weren’t given information or resources to pay your PCN
    3. You have an appeal against your PCN in progress
    4. You’ve taken your PCN appeal to an independent tribunal

    There’s a lot of information to absorb when it comes to appealing a PCN in the UK, regardless of the issuing authority. Don’t forget that we have full guides on council parking fines and private parking fines that you can use to find the answers you need regarding parking tickets!

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    Lucy R.14-11-2020
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