Should you pay a parking ticket?

Firstly, make sure the parking ticket has been issued for parking on private property. If it is council issued for parking on public property, then it should be obvious since it will have the council name on it, and it will be called a Penalty Change Notice, Excess Charge Notice, or if police issued, a Fixed Penalty Notice. If it’s a Parking Charge Notice (or Parking Contravention Charge Notice or similar), then this will be a private parking ticket – so continue reading.

If you do get a ticket make sure you collect all the necessary evidence that you might rely on later:

  • Take photographs of your car in position
  • Take photographs of the signage
  • Note where the signage is, and whether it’s lit (i.e. if it’s dark)
  • Keep all letters sent to you
  • Make a note of the time

At this point you need to decide whether to pay it or not. If you’ve been issued a parking ticket you’ll have a view as to whether it was issued fairly or not. Grounds you could consider for assessing the fairness could be:

  • Did you see the signage?
  • Was the signage clear (e.g. legible, written in plain English)?
  • Were you the driver?
  • Were the markings clear?
  • Were the parking rules reasonable?
  • Is the amount be requested reasonable for the contravention?
  • Were you entitled to park in the disabled bay?
  • Do you own the parking space?
  • Does the parking company have the right to offer parking?

Historically, in civil contracts it was not lawful to penalise parties for breach of contract; only the a amount lost (or a genuine estimate of it) be claimed. However, recent case law for in Beavis Vs ParkingEye changed this and allows charges as long as they are not “extravagant or unconscionable”.

Were you asking for trouble?

In a number of cases where the Parking Charge Notice has escalated to legal enforcement, and the defendant has lost, they have acted in a way which has compromised their case, such as:

  • Ignored the parking tickets and continued to park against the terms and conditions of the car park. After the 1st ticket is issued it is arguable that the driver knew what they were letting themselves in for on each subsequent instance
  • Parking knowingly against the intended use of the car park (e.g. in a disabled space if you or your passengers are not disabled). Whilst the road markings on private roads are not backed by the Road Traffic Act, you should not knowingly contravene them (e.g. parking in a disabled space)
  • Lie. If you are found to have lied about anything, then you would not be looked upon as a reliable witness
  • Ignored official court papers. If you get official court papers DO NOT IGNORE THEM. If you do, chances are you will have a default judgement made against you
  • And finally, remember that the Protection of Freedoms Act allows the keeper of the vehicle to be pursued if they have followed a specified procedure, irrespective of whether they were driving at the time

The above points aren’t a justification to pay, and nor are they reasons not to fight Parking Charge Notices, but they certainly could compromise you chances of doing so successfully.