Appealing private parking tickets

Following the introduction of the Protection of Freedoms Act in England and Wales, the area of appeals has changed. Specifically, for parking companies that are members of the Accredited Trade Associations (i.e. BPA or IPC), independent appeals services (IAS) have been established. For BPA members, this is known as POPLA (Parking on Private Land Appeals), and for IPC members, this is known as the Independent Appeals Service.

Having received a ticket from a ATA-member parking company, the first appeal must be made to the parking company directly. Since the appeal is heard directly by the operator, there is a clear conflict of interest since there is no benefit to them in cancelling the charge. Operators further pressure motorists into paying by offering a discount for quick payment; this is mandated by the codes of practice.

If the first stage appeal is unsuccessful then a second stage appeal must be offered to the relevant independent appeals service. If the appeal is allowed, then the parking charge is cancelled and the matter is closed. If the appeal is refused, then the parking company may continue to pursue the motorist for the charge, but the decision is not legally binding. By going to independent appeal, the quick payment discount is lost.

If no payment is made then the creditor may choose to pursue the debt through the county court. In the county court costs are limited, and so typically where parking charges are enforced, the total recovered is £160 (the ticket, plus limited legal costs, and the claim costs). If after successfully proving the debt in county court, and the charge remains unpaid, a County Court Judgement (CCJ) may be recorded.

If the parking company is not a member of an ATA or if the ticket was not issued in England or Wales, then they may offer an appeals service, but it will not be independent. Where appeals are not independent, then there is a clear conflict of interest and so they are frequently refused.

Non-members of ATAs are not able to get the registered keepers details from the DVLA. This means that they solely rely on drivers responding to tickets left on their windscreen. In these cases, if the driver identifies themselves in an appeal letter, then the parking company then has enough information to pursue them through the county court. If the motorist does not identify themselves then the parking company has no way of tracing the keeper to chase payment. As such, one should check whether the parking company is a member of the BPA AOS or IPCs AOS before responding to a ticket.

In the next section we’ll look at whether you should pay for the ticket.