How to Reclaim Parking Fines
According to a recent survey, traffic wardens are amongst the least popular members of society. Indeed, a slightly concerning proportion of respondents claimed to hold them in lower esteem than murderers and paedophiles.
While this seems more than a little excessive, there is no doubt that unwarranted parking fines are a bane of modern existence.
If you have received such a fine, and you are confident that there is no justification for it, there are means by which you can appeal against it.
In the first instance, you should remember that parking regulations are in place for good reasons. They make life easier for drivers and pedestrians alike, and should be respected. However, there are occasions on which fines are dealt out for spurious reasons, or because of simple human error. These are the cases in which you have a genuine chance at appeal.
Don't Pay The Fine!From the outset, it is vitally important that you do not pay your fine. Doing so will, in the eyes of the law, constitute an admission of liability on your part. Rather, begin by collecting as much evidence as you possibly can. It helps to have a camera with you – and, seeing as most people now have a good quality one on their mobile phone, this shouldn't be too much of a problem. Photograph any unclear or incorrect signs or road markings.
People are frequently caught out by temporary suspensions of parking bays, but you should remember that any sign is invalid if it fails to give the correct road name. If this has happened, take a photograph as evidence. If anyone else is around, and circumstances permit, you should also try to gather witness statements. Finally, if you have been landed with a fine for a stolen vehicle, make sure that you keep the crime number from the police.
There are a number of grounds on which you can appeal a parking ticket. These are: that the alleged contravention never happened; that you were overcharged; that the Council (if they were the issuing organisation) made a procedural error; that new restrictions were put in place, but this occurred improperly; the Council claims you tried to prevent a ticket being issued, but this is not the case; you did not own the vehicle at the relevant time; your vehicle had been stolen; the ticket has already been paid.
The Appeals ProcessIf you are confident that you can bring an appeal on one of these grounds, you should begin by writing a letter to the issuing authority. Sometimes, if you are clearly in the right, the complaint will be dropped at this point. Politeness is key here; regardless of how angry you are, you will not help your chances if you are rude.
If your initial letter gets no response, you will need to lodge a formal appeal. You should contact the issuing authority and request an appeal form. You will be required to give various details about the incident, and to outline your reasons for appeal. If you continue onto a separate sheet, make sure you staple it to the original form as it is remarkably common for these to be 'lost' in council offices.
At this stage, your appeal will either be accepted, or you will receive a Notice of Rejection of Representations. At this point, your only remaining option is to fill in the Notice of Appeal that will have been attached to this letter. This will begin the process of an independent tribunal. This may sound scary, but it is actually a fairly consumer-friendly process. You do not even have to attend the tribunal; you can give your representations by letter or telephone.
The good news is that 70 per cent of appeals that reach the tribunal phase will be successful for the appellant, and the process will cost you nothing but time and a couple of stamps. As such, if you are confident that you have a case, it is always worth appealing.