Fleet News

How to navigate the penalty charge notice ‘nightmare’

Parking tickets issued by the police

Parking tickets issued by the police are called fixed penalty notices (FPNs) and are dealt with under the criminal
justice system. 

Police forces do not have the power to make offenders pay fines on the spot. Penalty notices are enforced through the local magistrates court.

If committing a parking offence, a police officer or traffic warden will fix an FPN to the vehicle. Details of the offence will be on the notice.

If payment is not made, a notice to owner will be issued – details obtained from the DVLA – reminding the recipient of the payment due or offering a magistrates court hearing.

If further ignored, the penalty will be registered as a fine and the driver ordered to pay one and a half times the original charge.

If the driver does not agree that a parking offence has been committed they can object informally by sending a letter to the central ticket office in the area where the notice was issued. In the case of rejection, a further hearing can be asked for which will result in a summons to attend a magistrates court.

Parking tickets on private land

A ticket for illegal parking on private land, for example in a shopping centre, retail park, hospital or other private-owned car park, can be left on the vehicle’s windscreen or sent through the post to the registered keeper.

Parking tickets issued on private land can be issued for non-payment, staying longer than the time paid for or parking in the wrong place. 

If the parking rules are broken, private landowners can issue a PCN and recover the losses they’ve suffered.

Most parking enforcement companies are members of an accredited trade association, usually the British Parking Association or Independent Parking Committee, and are obliged to follow strict rules introduced in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. 

If a vehicle is captured on CCTV, an accredited trade association parking company must, by law, send a parking ticket to the vehicle’s owner within 14 days, starting from the day after the parking incident took place.

The company responsible for managing the car park is legally entitled to obtain details of the vehicle’s owner from the DVLA. 

It can pursue the vehicle’s owner for non-payment although, as with local authority parking, liability can be transferred to the driver by supplying the car park operator with their details.

When the parking company contacts the registered keeper, they issue a parking ticket called a ‘notice to keeper’ – whereas a parking ticket a driver gets face-to-face is called a ‘notice to driver’. 

In the notice to keeper, the keeper is asked to name the driver or pay the parking charge. 

If the keeper doesn’t respond within 28 days of getting the notice, the parking company can recover the unpaid amount by taking the keeper to court. PCNs should be paid within 28 days with a discount of at least 40% if paid within 14 days. 

If appealing against a PCN, drivers should initially write to the parking company, if it is a member of an accredited trade association, stating reasons why payment is not due. Reasons could include poor signage. If unsuccessful, a formal appeal can be made to Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA), if the parking company is a member of the British Parking Association.

An appeal to POPLA should be lodged within 28 days of the operator’s notice of rejection. Evidence from both parties will be examined by an assessor. If the appeal is lost, the full parking charge is due within 14 days.

If the parking company is a member of the Independent Parking Committee, an appeal can be lodged with the Independent Appeals Service. 

Appeals must be lodged within 21 days of the operating rejecting the initial appeal. If the appeal is lost the full parking charge is due.

If in possession of a ticket in a car park from a parking company that isn’t an accredited trade association member, drivers can write to the organisation stating their reasons as to why the ticket is unfair. 

However, a non-accredited trade association parking company is not allowed to obtain details of the registered keeper from the DVLA, will not have contact details and can’t take a driver to court – unless contact details are included in any correspondence in which case the parking company could take court action.



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