Canterbury council this week have been forced to pay back hundreds of parking fines after a tribunal ruled that you couldn’t reject motorists appeals if their ticket had flipped over (e.g. in the wind).
As a result hundreds of people will be getting refunds, however what is more important is this should open it up for others to claim similar refunds from their local councils.
“If you can prove that you did have a valid parking ticket, or – if you didn’t pay but should have – that there was a valid reason you didn’t display a ticket, you should always raise an appeal with the issuing authority.” – James Walker
Should I appeal a parking ticket?
It depends really, if the fine is from the Police/Council then you need to take it seriously however that doesn’t mean you should pay it (yet). From all other companies/people take it with a pinch of salt, Councils/Police fine people for a reason to allow tax payers to use parking spots or because they’re illegally parked and blocking traffic etc. If you believe you’ve been unfairly fined then go for it.
The exception to this rule is when you’re parking on private property, these fines are effectively invoices from companies/people that they want you to pay. They’re a request for payment instead of a fine that you must pay.
If you can prove the fine was unfair / you were buying something from their establishment etc and had a valid reason then tell them and it should be withdrawn or simply ignore it. The issue is when they can prove you’ve actually cost them money, it MAY go to court but the vast majority of the time you will send a couple of letters, they will send a few more strongly worded ones back and then they will quit when you basically tell them to go away. They then move on to the next punter they hope to scare into paying.
I fought one recently. As you say it’s a request for payment not a fine enforceable by law. After three letters to and fro, the last one they sent threatened bailiffs and demanded a response within 14 days.
I reminded them they had no legal right to send bailiffs round, and that the threat went against the code of conduct they had signed up to, and that because this was only a request for payment they could demand a 2 week response all they like but legally they don’t have a leg to stand on.
I them told them I required a response within 7 days.
That was 6 months ago. I haven’t heard anything since. Incidentally, my crime? I stayed outside a frankie and bennys for 2hrs 15 min when the car park had a 2 hour max stay on it with no way of paying for extra and one small sign on the way in mentioning it. Idiots. – Mat Read (10ways user)
Examples of times you would have a good case:
- 3 minute rule: Getting a ticket within 3 minutes of arriving will most likely be grounds for an unfair fine, however, the decision will depend upon the Council.
- Poor signage / road markings etc: Faded signs, no signs, limited visibility of signage, incorrect spelling, incorrect road names, faded lines etc
- Ticket not visible: If your ticket was upside down, back to front, hidden by your windscreen, fallen off the dashboard then you should appeal, it will depend on the discretion of the Council in this case.
- Blue badge holder: If you have a blue badge you can use parking meter and pay and display car parks for free. Blue badge holders are also not allowed to be clamped.
- Bank holiday parking: Most parking zones are free on Bank Holidays but some areas still charge. Check the signs before parking, if you have a ticket when it should be free, appeal.
Examples of times you shouldn’t appeal:
- Double yellow/red lines: They’re there for a reason, no parking at any point unless a blue badge holder. A few exceptions.
- Poor parking: They will have evidence and you will be troubled to be proved right. However if another cause above could be blamed then maybe go for it
- Broken/Covered Meter: You must use an alternative Meter, there isn’t that excuse unfortunately. Unless of course multiple ones are not valid and no signage. Ensure you’ve got all the evidence.
Other examples of times you may have a case:
- Emergency / Accident / Damage to road
- Broken down / helping someone else broken down
- Helping someone (hosptial, doctors etc)
- Funeral / Recent Death
- Stolen car etc
How to increase the chance of winning your appeal:
- Get as much evidence as humanly possible, photos, interviews etc
- Always check your ticket is being displayed correctly (after you’ve shut all the doors etc)
- Keep old tickets in your glove box for at least a month – just in case you get fined and the fine blows off in the wind. If the fine was removed from your windscreen most likely the first time you will hear about the fine is 28 days later when a letter arrives on your door step
- Always ensure all 4 wheels are within the bay / lines. Failing to do so could lead to a fine (yes really)
The council turned down my appeal, what do I do now?
First of all make sure to fight back with a counter argument to the council. Once you’ve done that and if they’ve still turned it down take it to the independent parking tribunal services:
- England & Wales – Traffic Parking Tribunal
- Northern Ireland – NI Traffic Penalty Tribunal
- Scotland – Scottish Parking Appeals Service (no website, but you can call on 0131 221 0409)
- London – PATAS