Returning to your vehicle to find a familiar-looking yellow ticket attached to your windscreen is never a pleasant surprise, but it pays to know your rights when it comes to dealing with parking charges.
What is the difference between a Parking Charge Notice and a Penalty Charge Notice?
Parking Charge Notices are issued in relation to a parking violation committed on private land, for example in a car park at a railway station, airport or retail park. They are different to Penalty Charge Notices which are controlled by local authorities and used for infringements committed on public roads or spaces.
It can be tricky to decipher the difference between the two tickets, but the best way to tell is that it should say 'Parking Charge Notice' as opposed to 'Penalty Charge Notice'. There should also be an explanation as to the nature of the offence and how it is violating the rules of the car park.
How to avoid Parking Charge Notices
- Private car parks should always prominently display the terms and conditions which you have to comply with in order to use the service. It's important to remember that once you park on private land you have in effect accepted these terms, so be sure to make yourself familiar with them in order to avoid any nasty surprises.
- Be sure to only park in bays that you are entitled to use: for example, if you don't have a blue badge then you can't park in a disabled bay.
- Take care when parking to ensure than you are leaving your vehicle comfortably between the lines, parking over more than one bay could potentially count as an infringement.
- Bear in mind that whilst often local authority officers will operate with a ten minute grace period for over-stays this may not be the case on private land. Be sure to take extra vigilance with your timing and consider setting an alarm on your phone to remind you when you have to move your vehicle.
What to do if you receive a Parking Charge Notice
If you've been parked on private land and you return to your vehicle to find a yellow notice marked Parking Charge Notice then you may have broken the rules of the car park and could be liable to pay a charge.
The issued ticket should explain the details of the infringement that you have committed. Make sure to check the reasons so as to be clear that they are correct. It's also worth checking if the rule that you have broken is clearly stated by visible signage, if this is not the case then that may help in your appeal process.
Since 2012 it has been illegal in Great Britain to clamp vehicles on private land, although in some cases there can be local bye-laws which will allow this practice, there should be clear signage to this effect though. If you believe you have been clamped unlawfully you should contact the police.
If anyone asks you to pay an on the spot fine in relation to your parking offence this is also against the law. You should not pay anything extra, unless the amount is the normal charge for staying longer than you have already paid for.
How to appeal Parking Charge Notices
If you believe that you did not commit the offence stated in your Parking Charge Notice, or if the charge seems disproportionately large, then you can make an appeal.
If you intend to appeal your charge it's important that you don't pay the fine, this will make it much more difficult, if not impossible, to contest the charge.
Take the opportunity to collect evidence which could support your claim, for example receipts for any payments you made, pictures of how your car was parked and the surrounding signage as well as proof of the time your vehicle was parked if possible.
To lodge an appeal this will usually be done online directly with the operator, your notice should explain how to do this. This should not affect your eligibility for a reduced payment for early payment if it is available.
Citizens Advice may be able to offer you further information as to your rights in relation to your claim. You should also make note of whether the operator is a member of any regulatory bodies, such as the British Parking Association (BPA) or International Parking Community (IPC), as this could provide further details of the code of practice which must be adhered to in relation to your charge.
If the operator is a member of the BPA then you could also submit a claim to Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA), who offer a free service to motorists wishing to appeal against Parking Charge Notices. Should this course of action not be successful your final option would be to use the Ombudsman Services.