Challenge that unfair parking ticket

If you’ve ever returned to your parked car and spotted a parking ticket, you’ll know the sinking feeling of peeling that bright yellow sticker off your windscreen. Especially when you believe it’s been unfairly given.

According to RAC Foundation analysis of government data, 5.65 million vehicle keeper records were obtained from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) by parking management firms in 2017 – a 20 per cent increase on the total of 4.71 million the previous year. Many motorists that are caught out face charges of as much as £100!

With such high numbers, we've put together a guide on how to appeal unfair parking tickets.

Reasons for appeal?

  • The car park signs were wrong
  • Poor signage
  • The traffic warden or council made a mistake
  • An error on the ticket
  • You have been overcharged

What if there are mitigating circumstances?

There are also some mitigating circumstances, which may be considered in an appeal. This is when you have broken the rules but had good reasons for doing so, for example:

  • You got a ticket while your car was broken down
  • You were tending to an emergency or clearing an obstruction
  • You drove an ill patient to hospital
  • You're too ill to move your car
  • You've had a recent bereavement

Gather evidence

When challenging a parking ticket that has been unfairly given, collecting evidence will help support your case. Here are some of the things that could help fight your corner:

  • Take photos of where your car was parked, the meter and your ticket. Plus, any unclear signs, bay markings or lines.
  • Hold onto information you have received regarding your parking ticket and make copies of anything you have sent off.
  • Keep proof of mitigating circumstances, such as receipts from a recovery company if you broke down.
  • Take witness statements from anyone who was on the scene at the time of the incident. Note down their story, details and ask them to sign a statement.


Before you start you will need to check the type of parking ticket you have. The way you will need to appeal will differ, depending on whether it's a:

  • Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) or Excess Charge Notice (ECN) from the council – These will be issued on public land, such as a high street
  • Parking Charge Notice from a landowner or parking company – These will be issued on private land, such as a supermarket car park
  • Fixed Penalty Notice from the police – These will be issued on red routes, white zigzags or where the police manage parking

Whether you have received a ticket on your windscreen or a letter through the post, they should both state whether it is from the council, police or a private parking company.

If you are appealing, DO NOT pay the parking ticket. Doing so is seen as admitting you were wrong – so you won't be able to appeal it once you've paid. If you have any concerns over not paying, call whoever issued the ticket and get them to confirm that you shouldn't pay if you are appealing.


Appealing a notice from the council

Take the following steps to appeal PCN or ECN for parking:

  • Write to the council

The first stage would be to write to council to challenge the penalty – this is called making an informal appeal. You should find an address, email address or fax number on the back of the parking ticket. You may also be able to send an appeal online via the council's website. You'll have 14 days to make an informal appeal from when you were given the notice, or 21 days if it was sent to you by post.

In the letter, you need to give the reasons why you're appealing and why you believe the fine is unfair. Include any evidence to back up your reasons if possible and ensure to include your vehicle registration, ticket number, the date the ticket was issues and your address.

  • If your informal appeal is rejected

If your informal appeal hasn't been successful or you didn't make one, it's time for you to make a formal challenge. You'll have been a sent a 'Notice to Owner', which includes full payment and formal appeal forms.
Once you receive it, you have 28 days to pay or appeal otherwise the penalty could increase by another 50% and you'll lose the chance to fight the fine.

  • If your formal appeal is rejected

If your ECN has been rejected through a formal appeal, you will have to pay the fine as unlike PCN you are unfortunately not able to take this any further.

If you have a PCN there's one last step you can take. At this point, you'll be sent a 'Notice of Rejection of Representations' letter, and a form called a 'Notice of Appeal'. This gives you the opportunity to challenge the ticket at an independent tribunal. Details on how to appeal should be on the Notice of Appeal form.

You'll no longer be able to pay the fine at a reduced rate and will need to submit the form within 30 days.

If you're unsure about going to a tribunal, it could be helpful to know that it is not a court hearing. Going to a Government adjudicator is free and can be done by post, phone or online.

If the independent tribunal disagrees, you should pay the PCN fine as if you refuse, the council are able to take you to court. This will affect your credit rating and you will have to pay court costs.

Appealing a parking charge notice

Take the following steps to appeal a Parking Charge Notice:

  • Check if the parking company is a member of an accredited trade association (ATA)

First things first, you will need to check whether the firm is a member of an accredited trade association as there will be different ways to appeal depending on this.

There should be an indication of this on the ticket, but if not check with the
British Parking Association (BPA) or the International Parking Community (IPC)..

If the company is not an ATA member, Citizens Advice advise not to pay the parking ticket. They will not be able to take you to court as they will be unable to get your details from the DVLA. It is important not to contact them as they can only chase you if you give them your address details. If you have received the ticket in the post from a non-ATA member you are able to report them to Action Fraud as your details will have been obtained illegally.

If you’ve been clamped, ensure to check the notice first to see who the clamp is from. Only the police, council, DVLA, or a private company acting on their behalf is allowed to do so on private land. If you have been clamped by a private landowner or a company working for them you should call the police on 101. It is important to not attempt to remove the clamp yourself as you could be taken to court for criminal damage – or even theft if you keep the clamp.

  • Contact the parking company if they’re an ATA member

You should find the contact details on the parking notice. The notice should also tell you if you must appeal through their website or if you can write to them with your reasons for objecting. This is called an ‘informal appeal’ and this must be done before making a formal appeal.
You're likely to boost your chances of success if you also include evidence to support your case and clearly explain why you're appealing. If you win your appeal, this decision is binding and the company should stop chasing you.

  •  If your informal appeal is rejected

If your appeal has been rejected, you can then appeal to an independent appeals service. This is completely free and if they disagree with the parking company’s view your ticket could be cancelled.
There are two trade bodies and each has its own appeals process:

1. Popla – for BPA members. You can appeal online or via post to Popla, PO Box 1270, Warrington, WA4 9RL.

2. The Independent Appeals Service – for IPC members. You can appeal online, but if you want to appeal by post, you must use a different set of forms.
You will have 28 days from when your informal appeal was rejected to make a formal appeal for BPA members, for IPC members you will have 21 days. Like you did for the informal appeal, make sure to include all the evidence to support your appeal.

Appealing a fixed penalty notice

Take the following steps to appeal a Fixed Penalty Notice:

  • Make an informal appeal if possible

First, check if the Fixed Penalty Notice was issued by the council or the police. You will need to write to them to make an informal appeal. Make sure to include any evidence that will support why you believe the ticket to be unfair.

If the ticket was issued by the police, your letter can be sent to the Central Ticket Office closest to where the ticket was issued. It is important to note not all areas will allow you to raise an informal appeal, you can check by calling the number listed on the notice.

If the ticket was issued by the council, your letter can be sent to the address on the ticket or letter.

  • If your informal appeal is rejected

If your informal appeal is rejected you will be sent a letter saying your Fixed Penalty Notice will not be cancelled.

At this point you will most likely be best paying as the only other option is to ask for a hearing in a magistrates’ court. If this goes to court you will need to pay court costs and your fine could increase by 50% if you lose. You will also need to attend the hearing to plead not guilty.


Looking for something else?