How to appeal a parking ticket

Local councils make millions of pounds every year from issuing parking tickets to motorists.

New data shows that the biggest-earning authorities rake in more than £10 million a year from charges and on average 63 drivers a day are issued with a parking ticket, jumping to 10 times that in some council areas.

With tickets costing an average of £37, it's a bill most motorists could do without. While the simple answer might be to stick to the rules, thousands of drivers are wrongly or unfairly hit with tickets every year, showing it's not just rule-breakers who are being hit.

So what do you do if you’ve been given a ticket you don’t think you deserve? Read on for our guide to appealing.

If you think you've been unfairly ticketed you can appeal against the charge (Photo: Shutterstock)

When to appeal

There are certain circumstances when you can legitimately appeal a ticket:

  • The ticket is wrong - If the ticket includes the wrong information, such as the car details or where the contravention occurred, or if it is incomplete
  • Unclear signage - if the signs were unclear or misleading or if relevant road markings weren’t visible
  • The vehicle was stolen or you weren't the owner when the contravention occurred
  • The Traffic Regulation Order was invalid. For example, if a council adds a new restriction, such as a yellow line, without following procedures then it cannot enforce the regulation
  • Mitigating circumstances such as health issues or a vehicle breakdown
  • A privately-issued ticket was disproportionately high compared with the usual charges or the loss suffered by the landowner
  • The parking meter/payment machine was out of operation and there was no other way to pay
  • The private firm isn’t a member of an accredited trade association - if it’s not it can’t obtain your details from the DVLA

Spot the difference

First check if your ticket has been issued by a local authority, private firm or the police. They all look similar but are worded differently. 

  • A Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) or Excess Charge Notice (ECN) is issued by the council on public land, such as a high street or council car park. 
  • Parking Charge Notices are issued by a landowner or parking company on private land, such as a supermarket car park. 
  • A Fixed Penalty Notice comes from the police and is issued on red routes, white zig zags or where the police manage parking

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Don’t pay

If you think the ticket is invalid don’t pay it. Usually, paying is seen as an admission that the ticket was right so you won’t be able to appeal it once you've paid.

You will, however, need to start the appeal quickly. You normally get a 50 per cent discount for paying within 14 days and this time limit is frozen when you lodge an appeal.

Gather evidence

Any evidence you can provide to support your argument will help your case so take photographs of any signs or road markings you feel were unclear, of your vehicle in situ and the parking meter. If you have a valid pay and display ticket keep that. Get witness statements, if possible. If your car was stolen provide the crime reference number. If you’re claiming mitigating circumstances, provide evidence of the situation.

If you think the ticket is unfair gather as much evidence as possible to support your argument (Photo: Shutterstock)

Put it in writing

Any legitimate parking ticket will have contact details for the issuing body, usually on the back. Write to the relevant address stating that you want to appeal the ticket, explaining why and include all the evidence you have to support your claim (use copies in case they get lost). Some councils allow you to appeal online so check the issuing authority’s website. 

You should include the date the ticket was issued, your address, your vehicle registration number and the ticket number in all correspondence. 

Consumer advice group Which? has template letters for appealing both council and private tickets.

For PCN and ECN, if you’re unsure of the issuing authority you can check here. You can check if a private parking firm is a member of an accredited trade body with the British Parking Authority (BPA) or the Independent Parking Committee (IPC). If it’s not, it cannot legitimately get your details from the DVLA and the advice from Which? Is to ignore non accredited firms, writing to them simply gives them details they cannot get otherwise.

What next?

Either the issuer will accept your appeal - happy days, move on with your life - or they will reject it. 

If your appeal is rejected

If a council rejects your appeal but you’re unhappy with its decision you can take the matter to one of the following independent adjudication services, unless it’s an ECN: 

England and Wales (outside London): Traffic Penalty Tribunal

Scotland: The Parking and Bus Lane Tribunal for Scotland - 0131 221 0409. For more information see mygov.scot

For private tickets issued in England and Wales you can appeal to the relevant accredited trade body - either the BPA or the IPC’s Independent Appeals Service. In Scotland, you can appeal to the IPC.

If your appeal is still refused at this stage then you will need to pay the charge. Failure to do so could see you taken to court. 

Remember, this advice will only help if you’ve been wrongly ticketed. If you’ve deliberately broken the rules then you’re on your own.