Do you need to pay a private parking ticket?

Have you received a private parking ticket? Find out whether you need to pay or not, what the law says, and how you can appeal.

Recently a friend of mine left their car in the car park of a house converted into flats for three weeks, with the permission of one of the residents.

When they returned to collect their car they were shocked to find five parking tickets on the windscreen – three of which were already past their early payment window. Collectively these tickets were worth more than the value of the car.

Trethowans
Trethowans

When my friend parked the car they had no idea the car park required any form of permit. There were no signs they had seen informing them of such.

However, on checking the car park carefully again, they noticed two black and white signs with small text. One was inside one of the entrance pillars, invisible to drivers approaching or entering the car park.

The other was on a wall behind a large bush, which made it difficult to notice the sign and impossible to read the text. Neither sign, from a distance, appeared to be a parking sign.

As you can imagine, my friend was very worried. They are a student and could not afford to pay the amount owed. They considered writing to the parking company and asking for mercy; asking if they could pay one and cancel the others.

I want to share what I learned fighting unfair parking tickets

Luckily I decided to investigate for them, and found an excellent Facebook Group that helped drivers with private parking tickets.

I wanted to share what I have learned in the past few weeks to help other drivers, and stop some of these companies profiting from what I believe are bullying and unethical tactics.

Yes, if you receive a parking ticket for an honest parking infraction, you should pay. But many people, like my friend, are issued what I believe are outrageously high charges for parking, without realising they were entering into a contract.

I have even seen people ask for help with tickets issued (and sometimes initial appeals to the company rejected) for:

  • Staying as little as 25 seconds over time
  • Leaving a car park after the company’s parking app wouldn’t work
  • Leaving a car park after not being able to find a space
  • Visiting a car park twice in one day and being accused of leaving their car there in between
  • Getting stuck in a queue leaving the car park after paying
  • Breaking down and not being able to move their car
  • Stopping to save someone’s life
  • Dropping someone off and not even attempting to park

These tickets, I believe, are not ethical nor fairly issued, but are pursued with such vigour, and frightening legal language, that people pay just to make them go away. It sometimes verges, in my opinion, on extortion.

I’m not the only one to believe this. Here’s what Minister for Levelling Up, Neil O‘Brien MP says:

“Private firms issue roughly 22,000 parking tickets every day, often adopting a system of misleading and confusing signage, aggressive debt collection and unreasonable fees designed to extort money from motorists.”

And to help this stop, I am going to share what I know to help you fight these tickets if issued in England or Wales. (If you were issued a private parking ticket in Scotland you can read advice here.)

How to use this article

I have tried to make this article as comprehensive as possible, and quoted and checked information using reliable sources. But please bear in mind I am not a legal expert. Use this article to inform yourself, but I recommend you also do your own research and get advice on your specific situation.

Citizen’s Advice are helpful, and there are some excellent Facebook groups with knowledgeable contributors who will look at your case and offer opinions. I also found the Money Saving Expert forum very helpful.

Before I get into the details of what happens, and what you can do when issued with a private parking ticket, I want to quickly outline the process, and share some basic guidance.

The five-step process of fighting a private parking ticket

Here’s the five-step process that can happen when you wish to challenge a private parking charge:

  1. The ticket: You park somewhere and (maybe) receive a ticket on your car. If you think the charge is correct and fair, you pay it. If not, you can wait for your chance to appeal it.
  2. The letter: If you didn’t pay the ticket (or didn’t get one), you will receive a parking charge notice (PCN) letter in the post. If you think the charge is correct and fair, you pay it. If you were not the driver and you don’t wish to appeal the charge, you can name the driver for the company to pursue instead.
  3. The initial appeal: If you don’t think the charge is correct and fair, or the PCN is not legally compliant, you can dispute it with the private parking company. They will either accept your appeal and cancel the charge, or deny your appeal and ask for payment.
  4. The ‘official’ appeal: If your dispute is denied and you still want to challenge the charge, you can appeal it with POPLA or the IAS. You either win your appeal and the charge is cancelled, or lose the appeal. If you lose the appeal you need to pay, or await possible legal action.
  5. Legal action: If you do not pay, the parking company may send you debt collection letters or take you to court. You can make your case for the charge not being fair in your defence at court. If you lose the court case you will need to pay. If you win, the charge will be cancelled.

I’ll take you through these stages in more detail in this article.

Basic guidance when fighting a private parking ticket

There is some basic guidance that I picked up when doing my own research in fighting a parking charge:

  • Never name the driver (unless you think the charge is fair and the driver needs to pay). You can appeal the PCN as the keeper without needing to name the driver.
  • Never speak to anyone on the phone. And absolutely don’t speak to debt collectors if they call you (we cover why, and what to do about debt collectors later on).
  • Don’t pay your parking ticket if you think it was unfairly issued. You cannot use the official appeal channels if you have already paid the parking charge.
  • Get advice on your individual situation. If you believe a private parking ticket has been issued unfairly, there are resources and experts who can help you make your case for appeal.

There are many grounds on which you can appeal, and many legal loopholes private parking companies can fall foul of (such as sending letters late). So please make sure you give yourself the best chance of winning your parking ticket appeal by getting help.

That covered, let’s look at what you can do when you are issued with a private parking ticket.

What happens when you are issued with a private parking ticket?

If you are issued with a parking ticket when visiting a private car park, you might find a yellow plastic envelope with the penalty charge notice (PCN) – the actual parking ticket – on your windscreen.

If your car was picked up by an ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) camera, you won’t receive a physical parking ticket.

Either way, you should also receive a notice of your parking charge in the post (unless you paid the initial parking ticket straight away, within the early payment window).

If you think your private parking ticket was issued unfairly or incorrectly, Money Saving Expert recommend that you “DON’T just pay it. Trying to reclaim cash already paid isn’t easy, so it’s far easier to dispute it before paying it.”

Instead of paying a parking ticket you believe was issued unfairly, you can use an appeals process to contest it. You can read advice from the Money Saving Expert forum here.

Who ‘governs’ private parking companies?

Before we look at the process of appealing a private parking ticket, we need to outline what guidelines private parking companies are bound to.

In order to manage parking on private land, a private parking company must belong to an accredited trade association, such as the British Parking Association (BPA) or International Parking Community (IPC).

This enables them to access vehicle keeper details from the DVLA, but also means they must adhere to the scheme’s Code of Practice. You can read the BPA Code of Practice here, and see the IPC Code of Practice here.

If you receive a ticket from a parking company that is a member of the BPA you can appeal through POPLA (Parking on Private Land Appeals Service). If you receive a a ticket from a parking company that is a member of the IPC, you will need to use their appeals service, the Independent Appeals Service (IAS).

If you feel you have received unfair treatment from a parking company it is important to make a complaint. If enough people complain about them then something may be done.

To complain about a BPA member email aos@britishparking.co.uk. And to complain about a member of the IPC email contact@theIPC.info.

When will you receive a notice of your private parking ticket?

Private car parks need to abide by strict guidelines when issuing parking charges. And this includes notifying you in a timely manner.

The first thing to do is check whether the parking charge notice (PCN) you receive says ‘Protection of Freedoms Act’. If so, the private parking company usually has to send notice to the registered keeper within a certain time frame.

If you didn’t get a parking ticket on your car (for example, if you were picked up by ANPR cameras) you must receive a PCN within 14 days of when you parked.

If you did receive a ticket on your car when you parked and you responded to it, the private parking company doesn’t need to send you another notice. If you didn’t reply to the notice you received when you parked, you must receive another PCN within 56 days.

If you didn’t receive the PCN within those time frames, you can tell the parking company you don’t need to pay the charge. (There is an example of a letter template you can use for this here.)

If the notice doesn’t say ‘Protection of Freedoms Act’, there is no time limit. However, if it arrives more than seven months later, the Citizens Advice Bureau suggest you argue that it is unfair to make you pay.

Why a private parking ticket is not a ‘fine’

Despite what private parking companies may try to make you believe, a private parking ticket is not a fine. Instead it is a breach of contract.

So in order to enforce the charge, they need to convince you to pay, or convince a court that you have indeed breached the contract between you.

In this instance the ‘contract’ is formed when you drive onto the land they manage, see the signs outlining the contract, and choose to stay.

Private parking companies who are members of an accredited trade association must give you a 10 minute grace period before issuing a parking charge notice. This allows you to read and agree to the contract.

Can you ignore a private parking ticket?

On Facebook groups it’s common to see people recommend motorists just ignore private parking tickets, saying that parking companies can’t legally pursue you for the money.

This is often not true, so ignoring a private parking ticket is not recommended.

Yes there are some conditions in which demands for payment for a private parking ticket can be ignored (we cover debt collectors later on). But if you are unfamiliar with the laws regarding private parking, it is always wise to seek professional advice.

If you ignore a parking charge notice and refuse to pay a private parking ticket, you risk the company taking you to the small claims court. If they win, you will need to pay. If you fail to pay then, you could have a county court judgment (CCJ) against you.

It’s also important to remember that private parking companies have six years to pursue you for the debt. So if you ignore them and don’t hear anything back, that doesn’t mean you are off the hook.

The risk of ignoring them in the hope they don’t pursue you is that they come after you years later, just before the debt expires (this is more common than you may think). By this time you can’t properly recollect what happened and have no evidence to fight a claim.

So don’t just ignore a private parking ticket. Instead use the formal complaint process to fight it, if you believe it was unfairly issued.

Where can you get help to fight a private parking ticket?

It’s unpleasant receiving a private parking ticket, and very tempting to simply pay it straight away to secure the lower charge. This is what private parking companies seem to bank on.

But if you believe your ticket has been unfairly issued there are several options you have to get support.

There are plenty of websites and online forums that outline the rules and your rights. There are also Facebook groups and forums with experts who will look at your documents and make suggestions on what to do.

The Money Saving Expert Parking tickets, fines & parking forum is a particularly helpful resource, with pinned posts explaining processes and providing templates, and forum members who offer opinions and informal advice. Your first port of call should be their brilliant, pinned Newbie posts.

Another equally excellent resource is the the PePiPoo forum on Private Parking Tickets & Clamping. They also have pinned posts, and forum experts who can offer opinions on your situation. Before posting on either forum it’s worth reading the pinned posts, and searching existing posts to see if there is anything that can help you with your case.

I can’t recommend strongly enough making full use of these resources. I have seen forum members spot opportunities to successfully fight private parking charges on.

12 grounds on which you can appeal a private parking ticket

There are more grounds on which you can get a private parking ticket cancelled than you may think. Here are 12 grounds for appeal we have taken from the Citizens Advice (CAB) website and other sources.

1) You didn’t receive the PCN in time

See above for the timeframes you must receive a PCN in. If the PCN arrives outside that timeframe, tell the private parking company you don’t have to pay the charge.

2) You parked correctly

Sometimes you can be issued a parking ticket, despite following the rules correctly. If you can prove you stuck to the rules stated on the car park signs (which form your ‘contract’), your ticket should be cancelled.

You can also appeal if you have been issued a ticket after visiting a car park twice in one day, but the private parking company did not register you leaving the first time and assumed you were there all day.

3) The signs weren’t clear

Any signs or car park markings must be clear and easy to see or read, and if there is CCTV or ANPR in use, this must be indicated in signs. If you can prove that signs are hard to find, hard to read, have faded, or are confusing or misleading, you may be able to get your ticket cancelled.

4) There was no way to pay

If ALL machines in the private car park weren’t working, you might have grounds to appeal (always keep evidence, such as photos showing broken meters). However, if the car park has a sign saying NOT to park if there’s no way to pay, your appeal is likely to be rejected.

5) You entered the wrong registration number

According to the BPA guidelines, if you make a minor keying error, such as miss-typing a digit, your PCN “must be cancelled at the first stage of appeal”.

If you’ve made a ‘major’ keying error, the BPA expects that “such errors are dealt with appropriately at the first appeal stage, especially if it can be proven that the motorist has paid for the parking event or that the motorist attempted to enter their VRM or were a legitimate user of the car park.”

Major keying errors might include entering your partner’s registration, entering several characters incorrectly, or entering only part of your registration correctly.

The IPC guidelines don’t specify what companies must do if a driver enters the wrong registration number. However, the IPC says it encourages their members “be more sympathetic” when people make small typing errors, so it is worth appealing.

6) You’ve been charged too much

According to BPA and IPC rules, you normally shouldn’t be charged more than £100, unless the parking company can prove your parking offence made them lose money. If you have been charged more than £100 and you think the extra cost is not justified, you should appeal.

7) You weren’t driving

If you were not driving the vehicle that the ticket was issued for, and you don’t want to pay or don’t believe you have grounds to appeal, you can give the private parking company the name of the driver to pursue instead.

If your car was stolen or you recently bought or sold it and the PCN was issued for a time you did not have possession of the car, you can appeal with details and any proof.

8) You couldn’t get back to your car

If you couldn’t get back to your car because it’s difficult for you to walk because you’re disabled, you are pregnant or you have a very young baby, you can appeal. The Equality Act 2010 means you have to be treated with understanding and can’t be discriminated against.

9) Your car had broken down

You can appeal if you were unable to move your car because it had broken down. Gather any evidence you can for proof.

10) You were only slightly late

It is worth appealing if you were only five or 10 minutes late. The private parking company may not accept this, but as CAB point out, “It’s still worth appealing because it’s free to informally appeal – and you have to do this before you can appeal to an independent tribunal or trade association.”

11) You were a ‘genuine shopper’

Some supermarket contracts have a ‘genuine shopper clause’. So if you are issued a ticket when shopping and can prove this (for example, you have a receipt) then the parking company could cancel the ticket.

12) The private parking company doesn’t have the right to issue the ticket

Private parking companies usually don’t own the land they issue tickets for. They are given the contract to do so. If you believe that the contract doesn’t exist, is invalid or has expired you can appeal.

Prepare your appeal carefully

Please note that just because you appeal a private parking ticket does not mean you will be successful. It is always important to prepare an appeal carefully, and send any evidence you can find to back up your appeal.

Please also note this list is not exhaustive; there may be other reasons not covered here (Parking Cowboys also has a list of reasons that is worth considering). These reasons are also not guarantees that your appeal will work.

Can you get your private parking ticket cancelled?

There are some occasions you may be able to get your private parking ticket cancelled. As we mention above, private parking companies usually don’t own the land they issue tickets for. Instead they are given the contract to do so by the landowner.

So if you believe a ticket is issued in error or unfairly, your first option could be to contact the landowner to ask if they can get it cancelled for you. This should absolutely be your first port of call if you received a ticket in a retail, hotel, gym or hospital car park.

For example, if you have been issued a parking ticket at a supermarket you were shopping in, you can ask a manager for help. The manager may value your loyalty as a customer and get the ticket cancelled.

If you received a parking ticket at an NHS hospital it is worth familiarising yourself with the latest car park guidance. If you think a ticket has been issued incorrectly or unfairly, contact your local PALS and ask for help to get it cancelled.

If you live in a block of flats, you can also try contacting your landlord to ask for help. It costs nothing to try to get a ticket cancelled so is worth a try.

If you don’t succeed in getting your private parking ticket cancelled you’ll need to appeal directly to the parking company who issued it.

What happens when you appeal a private parking ticket?

When you receive the PCN (also known as the notice to keeper, or NTK) in the post, you will be given the option of paying the charge or appealing, usually within 28 days.

To appeal the charge you will need to write to the private parking company or use their website to send an online appeal. The Money Saving Expert forum recommends you appeal using the company’s online form/portal or by email, and keep proof (such as a screenshot). They provide a template for this here.

Include any evidence that backs up your appeal. This might include:

  • Your pay and display ticket
  • Photographs of signs that are hard to see or understand
  • Photographs of signs that are incorrect, misleading or missing information
  • Photographs of parking bays and markings
  • A witness statement from someone who was with you saying what happened
  • A repair note, if your car broke down
  • Evidence you didn’t overstay
  • Permission from the landowner

Once your appeal is submitted the private parking company will respond to inform you whether your appeal was successful or not.

If your appeal fails, they will ask you to either pay the charge or give you the option to appeal further to POPLA or the IAS.

How to appeal a private parking ticket with POPLA

If the private parking company who issued your PCN is a member of the BPA you will be invited to appeal to POPLA. POPLA offers a free appeals service, and your case will be examined by an independent assessor. (While POPLA is free for you, apparently appeals cost the private parking company £27 plus VAT.)

In order to appeal to POPLA, you need to dispute your PCN with the private parking company who issued it first. When they reject your appeal they will give you a verification code for POPLA.

You can appeal to POPLA by post or online. You usually have 28 days after failing your appeal with the private parking company to make an appeal. POPLA will sometimes allow late appeals if you have a good reason for the delay.

But, and this is very important: POPLA will not accept an appeal if you have paid the parking charge. So do not pay the charge if you intend to appeal.

The private parking company must cease any further action to recover the money and not contact you while the appeal is in process. If they ask for payment while your appeal is with POPLA you can contact the British Parking Association who will look into it.

What happens during a POPLA appeal?

Your POPLA appeal is sent to the private parking company who issued your PCN. They then have 21 days to submit an evidence pack in response. This will be shared with you, and you have seven days to comment on it.

You can address errors in their evidence pack or give information that disproves their case. If you wish you do not need to provide any comments.

The case will then be sent to a POPLA assessor who will make a decision based on the submissions by you and the private parking company.

The POPLA appeal process usually takes between six and eight weeks. When a decision has been made, POPLA will email you.

What happens after your POPLA appeal?

If your POPLA appeal is successful and they have allowed your appeal, you don’t need to do anything more. The charge is cancelled and you don’t owe any money.

If your appeal is unsuccessful, you will be expected to pay the private parking company. To stop the charge increasing and prevent being potentially taken to court by the parking company, you will need to pay the charge within 28 days from the day POPLA made the decision.

You cannot appeal a POPLA decision. If you don’t agree with it and don’t believe you should pay the charge, you will need to take further action yourself. At this stage, it is recommended to get independent legal advice or speak to Citizens Advice Bureau.

41% of POPLA appeals succeed

Please don’t be afraid to challenge your private parking ticket with POPLA if you believe it has been unfairly issued. According to POPLA, 41% of appeals succeed, and the parking charge is cancelled.

From experience, the process is straightforward and if you get stuck there is a phone number you can call and speak to someone for help. It is free for you to appeal, and there is plenty of advice on websites and forums that can help you word your appeal properly.

How to appeal a private parking ticket with the IAS

If the private parking company who issued your PCN is a member of the IPC, you will need to make an appeal to the Independent Appeals Service (IAS).

You can appeal to the IAS by post or online and your case will be reviewed by an independent adjudicator, who can only decide whether the charge is lawful or not.

In order to appeal to the IAS, you need to dispute your PCN with the private parking company who issued it first. To make your appeal you will need your parking charge number and vehicle registration number.

You have 21 days to appeal against the IPC parking operator’s decision (known as the Standard Appeals Procedure) for free.

After the 21 days your appeal will cost £15. This is known as the Non-Standard Appeals Procedure. In order to appeal after 21 days, the private parking company needs to have rejected your dispute within the last 12 months.

If you use their appeals procedure you agree to be bound by any decision made by the IAS. The IAS will not look at an appeal if you have already paid the parking charge.

What happens during an IAS appeal?

Once you submit your IAS appeal, the private parking company who issued the PCN is notified. They then have five working days to make their case for the charge, with evidence. Once this has been received by the IAS, you will receive an email. You then have five working days to respond.

Your response is sent to the private parking company who have a further five working days to respond. The case is then placed before an adjudicator to make a decision. Appeals are dealt with in order of submission through on online queuing system. Once a decision is made you will be informed by email.

Don’t worry if your IAS appeal fails. According to the Money Saving Expert forum, this appears to happen often, even if you have a case. In fact, their recommendation appears to be to not even bother with an IAS appeal and wait to see if the parking company takes you to court, and fight it there.

What happens if your appeals fails?

If all your appeal fails, you then have the choice of either paying the charge, or waiting for the private parking company to initiate court proceedings against you. If this happens you will receive a letter before action with instructions on what to do.

If the private parking company takes you to court and you win, your parking ticket should be cancelled. You may even be able to claim a small amount for expenses.

If the parking company wins, your overall costs should not increase significantly, and if you pay within a month of the court judgment, you won’t get a CCJ.

What happens if you are contacted by a debt collector about a private parking ticket?

Sometimes a private parking company will use a debt collector to try to get their money from you. Please don’t panic if you hear from them. These companies may send scary looking letters, but this is just an intimidation tactic, designed to get you to pay.

According to Parking Cowboys, “Debt collectors have no power.” They fall into two categories:

  • A subsidiary of the parking company
  • A company that has bought the alleged debt from the parking company

A debt collector is different from a bailiff, who is appointed to recover a debt that has been awarded in a county court. A bailiff can only be appointed once you have been taken to court, lost your case and failed to pay.

All a debt collection company can do is ask you to repay the debt. They can’t take your property, visit you without informing you, or contact you repeatedly or during unsociable hours. They can only phone, write or visit you to discuss paying the alleged debt.

If a debt collection company does contact you, never speak to them on the phone. Deny the debt and put the phone down. Never engage in a conversation or argue with them as you may harm your position.

If you want to get rid of a debt collector, Parking Cowboys have an example letter here. Debt collection is regulated, so they must stop contacting you at that point. If not, their actions can be considered harassment, and you can report them to Trading Standards or the Financial Ombudsman.

What happens if you are taken to court for a private parking ticket?

If the private parking company believe they have a case against you and wish to pursue it and get their money, they may take you to the small claims court.

If that happens it is important to submit a defence. If you do not, the private parking company can apply for a default judgement against you.

If you receive a letter before action from a private parking company or their solicitors, your first step should be to send them a Subject Access Request (SAR) to find out what information they have on you. This can be helpful in preparing your defence.

An SAR is free and should be sent to the company’s Data Protection Officer (DPO). Check the privacy page on the company’s website for their contact details.

Your SAR should ask for:

  • All photos taken
  • All letters and emails sent and received, including any appeal correspondence
  • If the car park was pay and display, ask for a PDT machine records of payments made that day, including VRNs (these can be partially redacted)
  • All data held, all evidence they will rely on, and a full copy of the PCN, NTK
  • A list of all PCNs outstanding against you and/or this vehicle

If the company is using a solicitor, send them an email stating that you are seeking debt advice, but deny any debt and advise them that the case must be put ‘on hold’ for not less than 30 days under the PAP for debt claims 2017, and that you have sent their client a SAR. If you have moved and the parking company has two addresses, confirm your correct ‘address for service’ too.

You can find information about preparing a defence on the Money Saving Expert forum.

You don’t automatically get a CCJ if you lose your parking ticket court case!

Please don’t worry if a private parking company takes you to the small claims court. The process is quite straightforward, and with the help of the forums we share above, many people have won – even if they lost their appeals with the company, POPLA or IAS.

Sometimes parking companies even withdraw their court action once they see you are entering a defence.

And even if you do lose, you don’t automatically get a CCJ.

What happens if you lose the court case?

If you lose the court case or get a default judgment against you, you need to pay the charge plus any extra costs within the time given (30 days).

These extra costs will be for the court fee rather than the parking company’s solicitor’s fees, as legal costs cannot usually be awarded in the small claims court. (Currently, court fee for claims of less than £300 are £35.) The parking company may also add 8% interest to the debt.

If you do not pay within the time given, the parking company can’t issue bailiffs to collect the debt, but they can also apply for a County Court Judgement (CCJ) against you.

Please do not worry you will automatically get a CCJ against you if you lose – this will not happen if you pay within the deadline! Nothing stays on your credit record if you pay on time.

The private parking company rejected my friend’s appeal

So what happened to my friend’s five parking tickets? Following opinions offered in a Facebook group, they didn’t pay the tickets and waited for the PCNs to arrive in the post.

I then helped them to appeal on the basis that the car park signage did not conform to the BPA guidelines, with evidence. Disappointingly, despite the case being clear, in our opinion, the private parking company, One Parking Solution Ltd, rejected the appeal with a cut and paste response:

“We acknowledge the comments made in your appeal however this does not exempt you from the terms and conditions of the site. It is the motorist’s responsibility to ensure the permit is fully and clearly displayed in the front windscreen as per the terms and conditions, prior to leaving the vehicle parked on site. The signs state: “Retrospective evidence of authority to park on site will not be accepted.” Our time/date stamped photos show that at the time your vehicle was issued the parking charge it was not displaying a valid permit. Not displaying a valid permit indicates to the officers that the vehicle is unauthorised at the time of event.”

As you can see from their response they did address the points in the appeal at all. And strangely instead, rebutted based on an argument my friend did not make: having permission to park.

It feels lazy (and arrogant) at best, and at worst seems to me that they were hoping the keeper would just be intimidated into paying them the £500 which, at that time, was owed on the five tickets.

Unfortunately for them, I sought further help on behalf of the keeper.

I appealed to POPLA on behalf of the keeper

Based on the advice I received, I appealed all five tickets with POPLA on behalf of the keeper. The appeal I made was on three grounds:

  1. Insufficient signage
  2. No evidence of landowner authority
  3. Void for impossibility

Why void for impossibility? Because the parking signs stated that, “Parking is permitted for: Vehicles… parked fully within the confines of a marked bay”.

However, there were no marked bays in the car park, making it impossible to comply with the stated terms. As a result, I claimed that the contract was void for impossibility and the PCNs were unlawfully issued.

I prepared extensive statements for the appeal, quoting relevant laws and guidelines, and included photographic evidence.

I won the POPLA appeal – but am still angry

Two days after submitting the appeal, I happened to walk past the car park in question, and was surprised to see the two parking signs had been removed.

Later that day I received emails from POPLA stating that One Parking Solution Ltd had “reviewed your appeal and chosen to cancel the parking charge.” The only reason given by the company for cancelling the charges on POPLA was “reviewed”.

While I was pleased for my friend, I am still angry that it had to get to this point. By cancelling the appeal and removing the signs, it is clear to me that one or more of my appeal points was correct. This must mean that the company:

  • Did not have BPA compliant signs, or
  • Had no contract to issue parking tickets in the car park, or
  • Had no valid contract with drivers due to the lack of marked bays

If any of these are indeed true, the tickets issued were not legally enforceable. That means One Parking Solution Ltd had no right to issue them or pursue my friend for payment.

And I believe they should absolutely have cancelled the tickets on the initial appeal to them. Letting it go to POPLA was a waste of time and added stress to my friend. (And wasted money for the parking company.)

This, for me, adds weight to the argument that these companies do not always act ethically. How many other drivers have paid their PCN for tickets issued by One Parking Solution Ltd in this car park?

Perhaps that was what the company hoped for? That drivers wouldn’t discover they had no legal right to demand money of them? Or maybe the company had no idea they were issuing unenforceable tickets until they saw my appeal?

Either way, it reflects poorly on One Parking Solution Ltd in my opinion. And, whatever their motivations, or lack of, shame on them for taking people’s money with no valid contract or right to do so, if my assumptions above are correct.

Know your rights before you pay a private parking ticket

I had no idea what the process was when issued with a private parking ticket until this experience, and I have no doubt most people are the same. I suspect that many just pay the charges, without understanding their rights or even the grounds on which a ticket can be issued or appealed.

I wrote this article because I wanted to use my experience in helping my friend challenge their parking tickets to inform others. I hope you find it helpful.

Legal disclaimer

The content in this article is intended to be for general information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such.

While every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

Photo by Caspar Rae