The media has been full of stories recently about overzealous traffic wardens issuing huge numbers of parking tickets to motorists who are unaware they’ve done anything wrong.

In many cases drivers may have simply overstayed or parked in an inappropriate location, but if you believe that you have genuinely been given a ticket unfairly, there are many ways you can appeal this.

The first thing to find out is whether you have received a “penalty charge notice” from the council, or a “parking charge notice” from a private company, as this affects what to do next.

If you’ve received a penalty charge notice (PCN) and disagree with the charge you can appeal for several reasons. These include the alleged infringement not actually happening, exceptional circumstances, such as stopping to help at an accident or in the case that your vehicle had been taken without your consent.

Make an informal appeal

The first step to take is to appeal informally. Write to the council and explain in detail why you think that the ticket has been issued unfairly. Make sure to supply any useful evidence you have including photos, receipts or even witness statements.

If you write within 14 days of receiving the PCN the early payment discount should be frozen until you have found out whether the appeal is successful or not.

Submit a formal appeal

If you receive a PCN through the mail ensure that you make a formal appeal within 21 days to be able to pay the discounted price if the appeal is rejected. Do not make any payments as this can be practically impossible to get back.

Should the council fail to respond to you within 56 days of receiving the appeal, it has to cancel the ticket. If a formal appeal is rejected at this stage you will be sent a Notice to Owner ordering you to pay. You can still submit a further appeal to parking adjudication services across the UK.

Appeal to the parking body for your area

Your location affects the right body to contact. PATAS serves London while the Traffic Penalty Tribunal operates across the rest of England and Wales. Meanwhile there is a separate Traffic Penalty Tribunal (NI) for Northern Ireland along with a Scottish Parking Appeals Service.

If owners wish to make a further formal appeal, they have up to 28 days from receiving the “notice to owner”. If drivers do neither the council can then increase the fine by 50 per cent. At this stage if motorists haven’t paid, the council can send bailiffs to recover the balance or register the debt at the county court.

It is still possible to submit a further appeal following this and motorists can opt for a postal or personal appeal hearing. Following this you have to await the hearing’s verdict before taking any action.

Parking charge notices

Parking charge notices are different to penalty charge notices and are issued by companies for alleged offences on private land.

These companies do not have the same legal clout as the council and so some may choose to ignore parking charge notices as they are often deemed not legally enforceable. However, if you would rather appeal the charge there is an appeals service called POPLA (Parking on Private Land Appeals).

This service is available across England and Wales. Drivers in Northern Ireland and Scotland don’t have such a service. POPLA appeals involve independent adjudicators reviewing the evidence provided by both parties to determine the validity of the parking charge.

To be able to appeal to POPLA drivers must have appealed to the car park operator beforehand within 30 days of receiving the notice. The car park operator can ignore appeals made after this date and the driver will then be unable to appeal via POPLA.

POPLA is only able to adjudicate tickets received from companies registered under the British Parking Association’s Approved Operator Scheme. Car park signs should show whether the car park operator is listed with this.

Picture: Michal Kowalski