Appeal or ignore?

One of the most frequent questions we get asked here at Parking Cowboys is whether to appeal or ignore a parking ticket.

Before October 2012 the generally accepted advice was to ignore privately-issued parking tickets. This was because the driver of the vehicle was the only person who could have liability for the charge, whereas the parking company could only find out the name of the keeper. So, unless the keeper disclosed the name of the driver (intentionally or not), it was difficult for the parking company to take legal action to recover the charge, and therefore very few tickets resulted in legal claims being made. As a result, if one ignored a private parking ticket, the chances were that the parking company would eventually stop chasing payment, and this led to the popularity of the ‘ignore’ tactic, severely impacting the payment rate for parking companies.

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In October 2012, the Protection of Freedoms Act was introduced in England and Wales, bringing in the concept of keeper liability (see here and here). This change in law meant that, should certain conditions be met by the parking company, the keeper of the vehicle could be held liable for the parking ticket if the identity of the driver was not provided by the keeper. At this time, a number of parking companies, such as ParkingEye and Civil Enforcement Ltd, started to issue county court claims to enforce tickets. It is believed the intention here is to change the public’s perception that private parking tickets can be ignored.

The change in law also saw the introduction of Independent Appeals Services (see here). Before this time, the appeals were not heard by an independent 3rd party, and so very few were upheld due to the clear conflict of interest. The power of the internet has led to much information sharing, and as a consequence a number of winning strategies have been identified.

So, should you appeal or ignore?

The short answer is no. There are many case types, but generally most of them require you to take some action to avoid paying. Ultimately if the parking company did take you to court to enforce payment, then you might not look reasonable if you failed to engage at all. Further, there are many successful strategies that can get the ticket cancelled, and put an end to the matter. However, in the following cases it may remain better to ignore:

  • If the parking company is not a member of an Accredited Trade Association (e.g. BPA or IPC) and the parking company have not written to you. If they are not a member of an ATA, then they have no access to the DVLA’s keeper database. Without your address, they would have no idea who to sue for the parking charge
  • If the parking ticket was not issued in England or Wales. The Protection of Freedoms Act only applies in England and Wales, and so if the incident took place in Scotland or Northern Ireland, then the parking company cannot use keeper liability and nor is the independent appeals service available, so it is effectively the same as the pre-October 2012 position
  • There has been evidence that appeals to the Independent Parking Committee‘s Independent Appeals Service have not been heard fairly for example by not showing evidence to appellant, not following normal rules of law (e.g. burden of proof), and not acting transparently (see Parking Prankster blog for details). On this basis it may not be worthwhile appealing at all. If yout ticket is issued by the IPC, it would be worth researching similar cases on the internet forums
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Important – if you receive stamped court papers, do NOT ignore them. Stamped court papers means parking company has issued a formal claim against you. In this case all is not lost – you can fight back and the internet forums are a great place for bespoke advice. Ignoring, however, could mean that a county court judgement is registered against you.

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