How to appeal a parking fine: your rights around unfair tickets explained - and how to save cash

Getting a parking ticket is always a pain, but a ticket issued unfairly is even worse. Luckily, there are steps you to can take to appeal an unfair parking ticket.

Last year, councils raked in a whopping £930 million in parking fines and charges. Yet 56 per cent of those who appeal parking fines are successful - so it's well worth giving it a go.

Appealing a "public" parking ticket

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A public parking ticket is one issued by official bodies such as councils or the police. It will be labelled as Fixed Penalty Notice, Express Charge Notice or Penalty Charge Notice.

Tom Preston, Managing Director of Hippo Leasing, the UK’s leading car leasing specialists, advises carefully checking over the details of the notice - especially the registration plate, date and time.

56 per cent of appeals are successful. (Photo: Shutterstock)

This is because simple human error can mean tickets are wrongly issued. For instance, the sign might say free parking from 7pm but your ticket is issued at 7:05pm.

Mitigating circumstances, such as breaking down, being on holiday when parking was suspended or falling ill at the wheel, might also be considered.

Some people are also unaware that there's a 10-minute window after your ticket expires in a council-owned car park to allow you to get back in your car. If you get a ticket during this window, you also have grounds to appeal it.

If you did buy a pay and display ticket but it wasn't visible, you can try to appeal it. However, the visibility of your ticket is seen as a personal responsibility so you may be defeated.

Check your ticket carefully to see whether the issuer has made an error. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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Of course, you'll have to show proof along with any claim you make. This could be in the form of a parking receipt, a photograph of your car parked legally, unclear or hidden parking signs or documentation from the recovery company showing when and where you broke down. Proof will strengthen your appeal.

Tom Preston also recommends never paying the fine first, as this is recognised as an admission of guilt - immediately voiding your appeal.

The three steps of an appeal

Informal: This kind of appeal only applies to those with a Penalty Charge Notice left on their windscreen. If your fine came in the post, there is no informal procedure.

Formal: At this stage, you'll get a Notice to Owner demanding full payment if your parking ticket was posted to you, you failed to pay or your informal appeal was rejected.

Final: If your formal appeal was unsuccessful, you'll receive a ‘Notice of Appeal’ form and a ‘Notice of Rejection of Representation’ letter which allows you a tribunal. You've got nothing to lose at this stage as you've already forfeited the right to pay half-price.

A different appeal process applies to parking tickets from private car parks. (Photo: Shutterstock)

How to appeal a “private” parking ticket

A private ticket will use very similar language to a "public" parking ticket, but it isn't a fine. Instead, it's a notice that you've breached a contract and it can be challenged if you believe it was unfairly issued.

You'll have to follow the appeals process detailed on the ticket if the private parking firm is a member of a trade body. You'll double your chances of success by logging your appeal via their independent portal.

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If the parking company isn't a member of a trade body, it's difficult to know whether their appeals process will be fair. In this case, says Tom Preston, it's best to write a letter explaining why you believe the fine to be unfair along with any evidence you have. You'll then have to wait for their response.