This parking fine’s unfair! Can I challenge it?

Nobody likes to receive a parking fine, and it’s especially infuriating if you feel that it was issued unfairly.

Our friends at have some handy tips to help you contest an unfair parking fine. 

What are the different types of fines? 

If you’ve received an unfair fine, you need to know exactly what you’re dealing with before you contest it. There are three common types of traffic penalties:

Fixed penalty notice (FPN) issued by the police

These are issued for parking, dangerous driving or other minor offences. The time you get to pay this kind of fine varies depending on where you live. In Northern Ireland you have 21 days to pay it, and in England and Wales you have 28 days. 

If you don’t pay within the allowed timeframe, you may get a summons to a magistrates’ court and the amount you owe will be increased. If you’re issued one of these fines, points can also be added to your licence alongside as the financial penalty. 

The only way to appeal against a Fixed Penalty Notice is to go to a magistrates’ court hearing.

Penalty charge notice (PCN) issued by local authority traffic wardens

These are the ones you get for parking or other driving-related issues, such as driving in a bus lane. 

If you don’t pay the PCN, the amount you owe will increase and the debt may be escalated to County Court. From there, bailiffs or enforcement agents may be instructed to recover the money and this will incur extra fees. 

You can appeal a PCN, initially to the council and then through a formal tribunal process.

Invoices issued by private companies for parking on private land

You tend to get these for overstaying in supermarket, hospital or other private car parks. If you don’t pay the amount owed, the parking company will write to you and may apply for a County Court judgment.

In the past these companies would clamp cars, but this has been illegal since 2012.

What’s the difference between a penalty charge notice and a parking charge notice?

Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) are issued by your local council. They’re often confused with private parking invoices – which are sometimes called a Parking Charge Notice.

The main difference is that a ‘genuine’ Penalty Charge Notice can be enforced with bailiffs if it’s unpaid. A private parking operator can’t issue bailiffs, but they can pursue the debt through County Court to apply for a County Court Judgment against you.

Is it worth challenging a Penalty Charge Notice? 

If you believe the PCN is unfair, then you’re well within your rights to contest it. 

We at carried out some research to find out just how many people have contested an unfair parking fine. It turns out that two in five (40%) drivers have appealed a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) at some point. 

Data showed that challenging the penalty notice may be worthwhile, as 74% of these people were successful. They either paid a reduced amount or nothing at all!

That’s not to say that the process of challenging one of these fines is straightforward. More than half of people surveyed (52%) believe that if the process of appealing a PCN was clearer, they’d have challenged their fine.

How do I challenge my penalty charge notice?

Before you start your appeal, get clear on why the penalty is unfair. Do you have evidence that supports your appeal, such as car park receipts? Once you’ve gathered this evidence, send your appeal either as a letter to the address on your parking fine ticket, or via the parking enforcer’s website.

In your appeal letter, it’s really important that you include

  • Your address
  • The date of the offence
  • Your vehicle registration number
  • The PCN number The reason for appeal and why you believe it’s been issued unfairly
  • All evidence that can support your appeal

How do I write my appeal letter?

It’s really important that you clearly get your point across in your appeal letter. To do this, you need to:

  1. Explain why you’re writing the letter. Be sure to reference your PCN number and date, time and location of the penalty
  2. Explain the reason why the parking fine was issued 
  3. Explain why you’re disputing the fine. Some examples are:
  • Unclear or incorrect road signs
  • You weren’t driving the vehicle at the time the fine was issued
  • You didn’t own the vehicle at the time, and the offence was committed by the previous owner (you’ll need evidence of ownership from the DVLA to prove this)
  • You have evidence that you were allowed to park in a certain area or space within the timeframe of the fine
  • You have a Blue Badge due to a disability, and were allowed to park in the area for which you received the fine 

Once that’s done, send your appeal off within 14 days of the fine being issued. Doing this will give you time to pay a reduced fine if your appeal is rejected. We can’t guarantee that your appeal will be successful, but this is the correct channel to pursue if you believe the fine is unfair!

Visit our website for more information on how to appeal a Penalty Charge Notice, and other circumstances where you may be able to contest it. 

Have you ever contested a Penalty Charge Notice? Were you successful? Tell us all about it in the comments!

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