How to challenge a parking ticket on private land

A parking ticket. Credit: APEGA/ABACA USA/Empics Entertainment

Drivers who get a ticket while parked on private land can challenge any penalties they think are unfair - regardless of whether it was at a shopping centre, hospital or a residential street.

These tickets are known as Parking Charge Notices and are different to the Penalty Charge Notices issued by police or the council.

If you break the rules of parking private land, the owners of that land can issue a parking ticket and recover the losses they have suffered.

Read: Drivers hit by 'illegal' parking fines that could be worth millions

Reasons for appeal

Reasons for appealing may be that you either don't think you broke the rules, or you think the signs weren't clear.

You also may wish to appeal if you think the amount you have been asked to pay is unfair.

If you have compassionate or circumstantial reasons (such as a bereavement, breakdown or some other emergency) you could also appeal, but it is often at the company's discretion whether to accept your reasons.

Should I challenge it?

Whether you want to challenge a fine may depend on the circumstances, what kind of land you parked on and what could happen if you do appeal it.

Therefore it is worth considering your options first - particularly whether the company that enforced the fine is accredited.

  • If you get a parking ticket in a private car park or on private land

Parking companies are usually members of an accredited trade association (ATA) such as the British Parking Association (BPA) and the Independent Parking Committee (IPC).

These companies have to follow rules laid out in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, and have a trade association code of practice that they must comply with.

If you get a ticket from one of these accredited companies you can write to the company challenge the using the method below. If you do not pay, the company can access your details from the DVLA and pursue you for payment.

If the company is not accredited, it does not have the right to access your details via the DVLA, and therefore cannot take you to court unless you have given them your contact details.

You can check if the company is accredited to either the British Parking Association or the Independent Parking Committee on the bodies' websites.

  • If you get a parking ticket on a private road or residential area

If you park on private residential land without permission - such as a private residential road - you may be trespassing.

You can then be charged for ignoring the rights of the landowner, if this is provable.

If you ignore a ticket for trespassing on private land, a company may be able to get your contact details and pursue you.

Unlike above, they are not required to be members of an accredited trade association.

I have decided to challenge the fine. What do I do now?

Getting evidence to support your claim will make you more likely to be successful - this could include:

  • the ticket itself and any correspondence you have

  • a crime reference number and insurance claim if relevant (eg, if the car was stolen)

  • bank details or a receipt to prove you have already paid

  • a doctor's note if you or a passenger were ill

  • photos of hidden or inadequate signs, broken ticket machines or anything else relevant

  • statements from witnesses to back up any claims

If you are challenging the level of the fine, you can ask for a breakdown of how the landowner calculated their losses.

Compensation can only be claimed for losses suffered because you parked either in the wrong place or stayed too long.

For example if a company charged a fixed penalty because you stayed longer than agreed, this may prove to be unenforcable by the courts if the fine exceeds the amount of actual loss experienced by the landowner.

Once you have gathered this, write a letter containing the relevant information above to the company charging you.

It would be worth keeping a copy for your own records.

If the letter is rejected: Next steps

If the reasons you gave in your letter are rejected, you can make a formal appeal if the company is a member of an accredited trade association.

More information on this can be found here on the Citizens Advice Bureau website.

If you wrote a letter to a non-accredited company, you can choose not to pay the fine but it is possible you could still face court action.

More information on this can be found here on the Citizens Advice Bureau website.

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