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Is it illegal to ignore a parking charge notice and what will happen if I do?


IGNORING a parking charge notice could leave drivers with hefty penalties and even a criminal charge for parking on private land.

Not all parking tickets are the same and the consequences of ignoring a parking ticket depend on which one you received.

You could be taken to court for ignoring or refusing to pay for the private parking charge

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You could be taken to court for ignoring or refusing to pay for the private parking chargeCredit: Alamy

A penalty charge notice is issued by a government official for parking violations while a parking charge notice is issued by a private company when parking on private land.

Is it illegal to ignore a parking charge notice?

Ignoring a parking charge notice issued by a private company is not strictly illegal, as it has not been issued by a government official.

However, when parking on private land, the driver and the landowner enter an unwritten contract, and the terms must be clearly displayed and easy to understand.

By ignoring a parking charge issued by a private company, you would be in breach of contract, as opposed to the law, which could still have strict consequences.

While these charges may be presented as fines, they are formally invoices, and are the responsibility of the car’s registered owner, as opposed to the specific driver.

In Scotland and Northern Ireland, the rules are largely similar, however, the driver is liable for the ticket – not the registered owner.

How much can you be fined for ignoring a parking charge notice?

The good news is you can only be fined the fixed amount stated on the invoice for a parking charge notice.

The bad news is you could be taken to court for ignoring or refusing to pay for the private parking charge.

If you ignore a parking charge, the owner of the private land can take you to court to recuperate the costs of the fine and can result in the motorist paying more than their initial ticket.

If you are taken to court over a parking charge and found guilty, you will be required to pay any legal fees incurred, which could cost you significantly more than the parking fine.

You could also be left with a criminal charge for breaching your contract under extreme circumstances.

How can I pay a parking charge notice?

A parking charge notice can be issued in several ways.

It can be given to the vehicle’s driver or placed on the windscreen, a ‘Notice to driver’, or it can be sent through the post to the vehicle’s registered driver, a ‘Notice to keeper’.

Each of these tickets will contain specific instructions on how to pay the parking charge and can differ depending on the company that owns the private land.

To pay a penalty charge notice, a ticket that has been issued by official parking enforcement officers, you can do so via the gov.uk website.

How can I challenge a parking charge notice?

It is not uncommon for parking fines to be overturned following a successful appeals process, with drivers across the UK saving thousands of pounds in charges.

You can challenge a parking fine by appealing directly to the parking operator that issued your parking charge notice.

You should write to the company explaining that you do not accept its invoice and that you do not consider the charge to be fair.

You should also give reasons as to why you consider it to be unfair in your initial appeals.

The appeal must be submitted within 28 days of receiving the parking charge notice.

It’s important to remember that with private parking tickets, the burden of proof lies with the private company issuing the ticket.

If they are unable to prove why they have issued the ticket, your appeals process will likely be successful.

If the appeal is rejected, then you can get in touch with POPLA (Parking on Private Land Appeals) if the company is registered with the British Parking Association (BPA).

If the company is not registered with the BPA, they should tell you who to refer your rejected appeal with, likely the International Parking Community (IPC).

There are several reasons for a parking charge to be overturned, including attending a funeral and mechanical breakdowns.

Nearly two million motorists were fined in the first quarter of the 2021/22 financial year.

With fines capped at £100, private firms have reportedly issued demands for up to £840million in 2019/20 and £195million in the first three months of this financial year.

It is illegal to ignore a penalty charge notice, and can result in larger fines, and may result in Enforcement Agent action to recover the debt.

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It is illegal to ignore a penalty charge notice, and can result in larger fines, and may result in Enforcement Agent action to recover the debt.Credit: Alamy

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