The POPLA appeals service was introduced in October 2012. The Government requested its creation as a dependency for the Protection of Freedoms Act. POPLA (or Parking on Private Land Appeals) was set up by the British Parking Association (BPA) Ltd as the Independent Appeals Service for members of its Approved Operator Scheme (AOS). POPLA is independent in the sense that it is operated by a different party, but it is paid for by members of the BPA AOS. The service was originally provided by London Councils, but as of October 2015, is being run by Ombudsman Services Ltd, a private dispute resolution company.
As a requirement of the British Parking Association’s Code of Practice, member parking companies are required to firstly hear appeals themselves. If unsuccessful, they are required to offer the opportunity to appeal to POPLA; not doing so would be a breach of the Code of Practice and should be reported to the BPA Ltd. Appeals can be made either online or by post, and to be accepted must be received within 28 days of the operators refusal. On receipt of the appeal, POPLA will send an acknowledgement including a decision date at least 28 days in the future. This allows the operator to provide evidence, and the motorist to provide any further evidence. After the appeal is decided, the assessor writes to both parties with the result, setting out their reasoning.
Appealing to POPLA doesn’t cost the motorist anything, except for losing the opportunity to pay the reduced parking charge. It does, however, cost the parking company a fee of £27+VAT, with some commentators estimating the real cost to the parking company being £130 http://parking-prankster.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/how-much-does-popla-cost.html. If the appeal is allowed then under the BPA’s Code of Practice, the parking company must accept that decision and drop the case.
If the appeal is refused, the wording on the decision requires the motorist to pay the charge within 14 days to avoid further action. The decision, however, is not legally binding on the motorist. He or she may decide not to pay, leaving the parking company the option of dropping the case, or pursuing legal enforcement through the county court. If it did go to county court, the judge would not be bound by POPLA’s decision, although he may take it into consideration.
Check out our article ‘How to win your POPLA appeal’ for guidance on how to go about writing your own appeal letter.