Appealing a PCN

Appealing a PCN

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Most types of illegal parking (although not dangerous parking) are now no longer considered a crime. In most major UK cities, parking restrictions are handled by uniformed Parking Attendants who are normally employed by contractors for the local council or the Roads Service in Northern Ireland.

Penalty charge notices

Under this system, an offender pays the Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) (it's no longer called a fine) and there is a 50% discount for paying the PCN within 14 days. If you send a letter appealing the PCN to the local council (or appeal online where that option is available) within 14 days of the date of the PCN, you can sometimes preserve the 50% discount rate until 14 days after the date of a Notice of Rejection of Representations.

Appealing a PCN

Under the legislation, local councils have an overriding duty to act 'fairly'; therefore, well-drafted representations can often get the local council to waive the PCN. You have nothing to lose (and everything to gain) in appealing a PCN for legitimate reasons.

A full list of grounds for appeal (outside London) is available on the Traffic Penalty Tribunal website Traffic Penalty Tribunal and (inside London) the London Tribunals website.

Grounds of appeal

Some grounds of appeal include:

  • 'I wasn't the owner at the time of the alleged parking contravention.'

If you make representations on this ground, you're legally obliged to give the name and address of the new owner (or the previous owner), if you know that information. Remember, it is the owner of a vehicle who is responsible for paying a PCN, not the driver.

  • 'When the vehicle was parked, it was taken without my consent.'

This ground for representation covers both stolen vehicles and vehicles that were used without the owner's consent but weren't stolen. The latter category could apply, for example, to a vehicle taken by 'joy riders'. You'll normally be expected to give the council a Crime Reference Number if you use this ground.

  • 'We're a vehicle hire firm and have supplied the name and address of the hirer.'

This covers hire vehicles where the hirer has signed a formal agreement accepting responsibility for any PCNs issued during the period of hire. You'll be expected to supply details of the hirer's name and address, ideally with a copy of the signed hire agreement.

  • 'The alleged parking contravention didn't occur.'

This can include situations where the regulations don't apply in the situation, e.g. loading or unloading was taking place. Another example would include if a PCN was allegedly issued too early by the Parking Attendant or if a vehicle was allegedly displaying a valid permit, ticket, badge, etc. There can be wide interpretations of 'didn't occur'.

  • 'The penalty charge exceeded the relevant amount.'

This covers situations where you were asked to pay the wrong amount for the penalty charge or no PCN was issued for the contravention.

In addition, you can argue that a PCN should be cancelled for other 'compelling reasons'.

Scotland and Northern Ireland

Scotland

Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth and Kinross, Dundee and Aberdeen are currently the only councils in Scotland issuing PCNs under the Road Traffic Act 1991. In these areas, most types of illegal parking are now no longer considered a crime.

If you want to dispute the council's decision, you can appeal to the Scottish Parking Appeals Service. The appeal will be considered by an adjudicator (experienced lawyer) who is not part of the council. Details on how to do this are sent with the Notice of Rejection, which follows an unsuccessful appeal to the council.

In the rest of Scotland, parking offences are controlled by Police Officers or Police Traffic Wardens and remain criminal offences. Traffic wardens issue Fixed Penalty Notices.

If you have been given a Fixed Penalty Notice in one of these areas, there'll be an address inside of the letter with the attached Fixed Penalty Notice. If you want to complain about it, you can write to this address. The address will be headed 'Central Ticket Office' or similar. Your appeal must be in writing, but there appears to be no formal process.

The process is different if you to go to court. In this case, you should fill in Part III on the reverse of the ticket, attach a letter of mitigation and send it to the address shown for Part III. However, doing so will mean any appeal you might have made won't be considered before you go to court.

Northern Ireland

Governing parking is the responsibility of Department of the Environment Roads Service. Like England, most types of illegal parking are no longer considered criminal. The Parking Enforcement Processing Unit is responsible for collecting parking fines, enforcing non-payment and sorting out disputes.

On-street parking and waiting restrictions are now controlled by parking attendants, provided by private contractors National Car Parks, who issue PCN in the same way as in the rest of the UK.