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Contesting parking tickets

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They’re the bane of motorists’ life, and among the most unpopular of all professions. While traffic wardens play Tom and Jerry with hapless drivers up and down the country, however, a spirit of rebellion has taken root. Motorists are fighting back, and challenging their parking tickets.

Contesting an incorrectly issued parking ticket can be a daunting prospect—it seems less trouble just to pay up. If you feel you have been unfairly ticketed, however, why not have a go at fighting it? According to local authority statistics, more than half of all appeals are granted and this figure rises to nine out of ten appeals in some areas, including some London boroughs. However, very few parking tickets are appealed (as little as one per cent, according to some sources).

Arguments you can use

The following are some of the arguments that can be used to support your challenge.

The ticket could be invalid if the date, time, location or vehicle description is not correct.

Road signs about parking should be clear. There should, for example, be a sign on both sides of the road as you enter into a controlled parking zone. If these are obscured by trees then you can argue that you couldn’t be expected to be aware of the restrictions. Parking bays should have a certain number of signs (usually one sign every 30 metres and one sign five metres from either end) therefore you may be able to appeal your ticket on this basis.

There are all sorts of rules and regulations covering the display of signs, position of yellow lines and other restrictions and warnings about restrictions.

If there are misleading signs, or you have a valid parking permit, or the ticket was not issued, then you can appeal on the ground the contravention did not occur.

Other grounds for appeal include that the penalty exceeded the relevant amount, the vehicle was taken without your consent, or that you were not the owner of the vehicle when the offence occurred.

Appealing your ticket

Once a ticket (or Penalty Charge Notice as it is correctly called) has been issued, the traffic warden or parking attendant cannot cancel it. Arguing is futile.

What you can do is ask why the ticket was issued, explain why you parked where you did, and ask the attendant or warden to make a written note of your comments in his or her book. Then you should collect evidence. Take photos of your car and any misleading signs or faded lines on the road, preferably on a camera that records the date and time.

As the fine is halved if you pay within 14 days, you then have a choice. If you appeal and lose, you are likely to pay twice the amount.

You cannot appeal if you have already paid the ticket.

Local authorities have a duty to be ‘fair’ and ‘timely’ to motorists. You should therefore write to the issuing authority as soon as possible, pointing out your circumstances and presenting evidence in support of your argument. The authority should reply within a reasonable time, and if they don’t then that will strengthen your case if you decide to take the matter up in court or with an adjudicator.

If the local authority rejects your challenge, it will send a ‘notice to owner’ form, which you must return within the specified period of time (usually 28 days). If this is rejected, the local authority will send you a ‘notice of rejection of representations’ and a notice of appeal, which allows you to put your case to an independent adjudicator.

The issuing authority can cancel a ticket on compassionate grounds or if there are mitigating circumstances, such as health reasons. An adjudicator can cancel a ticket only if it has been incorrectly issued.

A final appeal can be made to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, if the ticket was issued outside of London.

Scotland and NI

In Scotland, parking outside of the main cities is often controlled by the police, and Fixed Penalty Notices are issued for parking offences. Elsewhere, the situation is broadly the same as in England. Appeals against parking tickets issued by councils in Scotland should be made to the Scottish Parking Appeals Service.

There is no clamping in Scotland, as the courts ruled this to be a form of extortion and theft, in 1992. Clamping is, however, allowed on public highways although it must be carried out by the police or someone with statutory authority.

In Northern Ireland, parking tickets are issued by the Parking Enforcement Processing Unit (Pepu), which uses parking attendants in the same way as in the rest of the UK.

If contesting a parking ticket, you should first write to Pepu. From there, an appeal can be made to the NI Traffic Penalty Tribunal.

Getting legal advice

Need help finding a parking solicitor near you? LawyerLocator covers all of the UK from major cities like London, Manchester and Birmingham to small towns in the countryside.

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