A Guide to Appealing a Parking Fine
What You Need to Know
- Firstly, remember appealing a parking fine can take time and be a stressful process, so if you only feel you have a slight chance of the fine being overturned, then it may not be worth it.
- Also, councils tend to offer incentives for paying fines early, so it may be worth paying up rather than taking a gamble and ending up paying substantially more.
- Your efforts to have a fine overturned will be much more likely to succeed if you have solid grounds for appeal.
- Common grounds for appeal include being fined too much for a parking offence, having had your car stolen or the parking warden failing to fill in a ticket correctly.
- If you have solid grounds for appeal, you first need to lodge an informal appeal with the local authority that issued the fine. Alongside a letter detailing your arguments, you may also want to include supporting material such as photographs and witness statements.
- Statistically speaking, around half of all appeals are upheld at this stage. If your fine is not overturned, you will need to fill in you a Notice to Owner form and lodge a formal complaint.
- If your formal appeal is declined, then you will need to go through the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service or the Traffic Penalty Tribunal who will make a final decision.
Do You Really Want to Appeal?
First and foremost, if you've been hit with a parking fine, then you should keep a cool head and make a calm, objective decision over whether or not to appeal. In most cases, there is no doubt that the driver is in the wrong; that is, if you've broken clearly-marked rules relating to parking, you should simply accept the fine and pay it.
Even if you feel there may be some grounds for appealing the fine, you may want to pay it anyway. Appealing can take time and effort and can be a stressful process, so if you only feel you have a slight chance of the fine being overturned, then it may not be worth it. Moreover, local councils offer financial incentives to pay fines sooner rather than later. Should you appeal and lose, then you could end up paying substantially more than you would have done if you'd simply accepted your fate from the beginning.
Your decision on whether or you seek to have a fine cancelled should be based on how strong your grounds for an appeal are. Remember, with the exception of some kinds of fixed penalty notices issued by police officers, you will not get any penalty points on your license for a parking offense, nor will a ticket affect your car insurance premiums.
Possible Grounds for Appeal
Your efforts to have a fine overturned will be much more likely to succeed if you have solid grounds for appeal. Some of the most commonly-cited grounds of appeal across the UK include:
- I Have Been Fined Too Much: Should the fine you are asked to pay be more than you would normally expect for a parking offence, then you may have a solid case for an appeal. As of 2013, the maximum amount councils can fine motorists for parking offences stands at £120 within London and £60 elsewhere in the UK. If your fine exceeds this, then contact your council to check why you are being asked to pay more money. If they are unable to justify the size of the fine, you may claim to have it cancelled.
- I Had Sold My Car/My Car Had Been Stolen: Fines are directed to the registered owner of the vehicle. So, if you sold your car prior to the parking offence taking place, you will have solid grounds for appeal against any fine. If you wish to appeal on these grounds, you will need to write to your local council, providing the contact details of whoever bought the car from you. While it should be the buyer's responsibility to contact the DVLA and register the vehicle, you may want to do this yourself in order to prevent such a mix-up happening again. Similarly, if your car was stolen prior to the alleged parking offence, then you will have solid grounds for appeal, though you will be required to provide the council with a crime reference number.
- Information Is Missing From My Parking Ticket: A parking ticket could be deemed invalid if key details have not been filled in by the traffic warden who issued it. A valid parking ticket should inform you not just of the size of the fine, but should also state the specific reason why the fine has been issued and make clear when the fine needs to be paid by and give the address where the penalty charge should be sent to.
- I Didn't Know Parking Restrictions Were in Place: Legally speaking, if they are to issue fines, councils must provide clear signs informing motorists of any restrictions in place. If you believe that no signs were present, or even if they were present but were hard to read or understand, you may have grounds for appeal, though councils will undoubtedly check your claims for themselves to see if you have a valid case.
- There Were Exceptional Circumstances: While some grounds for appeal are clear-cut, citing exceptional circumstances is not so straightforward. If, for instance, you stopped to help out at the scene of an accident and were issued with a fine, then a council should overturn it. However, if you had just left your car briefly to pop into a shop or use an ATM, the chances of a successful appeal are slim.
If you therefore feel that you do indeed have reasonable grounds to argue against a parking fine, then you can push ahead with the appeals process.
The Appeal Process
The first thing to do if you want to have a parking fine overturned is to lodge what is known as an informal appeal. This simply involves writing a letter to the parking authority of the council that issued the fine, stating clearly and concisely why you feel the fine should be cancelled. It may be a good idea here to provide as much supporting evidence as you can, for instance witness statements if you feel there were exceptional circumstances or photographs if you are arguing that parking restrictions were not clearly signposted. Also, be sure to send in a photocopy of the original penalty charge notice, particularly if you feel the absence of key information makes the fine invalid.
Statistically speaking, around half of all appeals are upheld at this stage. If the council does agree with you and cancel the fine, then you won't owe a penny nor need to do anything more. If, however, the council disagrees and upholds the fine, then you can either conceded defeat and pay the amount owed, or else push on and lodge a formal complaint.
If you do want to continue your appeal, the council will send you a Notice to Owner form. You will then need to fill this in and return it within 14 days, giving detailed reasons why you feel your fine should be overturned. Again, the council may accept your formal appeal and overturn the fine or if not, send you a Notice of Rejection of Representation form, along with an Appeals Notice form.
Should your formal appeal to the council prove unsuccessful, then you are able to appeal to an independent adjudicator. If the alleged offence took place in London, you will need to go through the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service, while the Traffic Penalty Tribunal deals with cases from everywhere else in the country.
So long as you lodge your appeal with the relevant independent body within 28 days of receiving your Appeals Notice form, then they will deal with it in a timely and objective manner. You will be given the choice of receiving a decision by post or, should you wish to put forward your case in court, you may opt for a personal hearing. Once the adjudicator has made its ruling, that decision is final. Note that, if the fine is upheld, you will be required to pay the fine itself as well as 50% of that amount on top of it.
- The government's official advisory service also provides a comprehensive guide to the parking ticket appeals process, available here.
- If you’ve been caught speeding you might be able to avoid penalty points. Find out more with our guide to speed awareness courses.
- Bear in mind that parking laws aren't the same everywhere. Read our guide to driving in Europe for more.