Contesting fixed fine tickets
Fixed-fine tickets are the scourge of many people throughout the UK and ticket officers are subsequently the subject of much ridicule. In almost all cases this is unfair with parking fines introduced to discourage people from overstaying their time in a car park, which is often a short-stay car park, in order to allow more people to visit a particular place, usually a town.
If it were not for the parking fine system then the car spaces which are already often very difficult to find would be nigh on impossible to use.
Having said that, there are times where parking fines are completely unjust and knowledge of the process of contesting the fine becomes crucial.
Generally speaking there are two types of parking fixed-fine tickets: a penalty charge notice and a fixed penalty notice.
Penalty charge notice
A penalty charge notice is a parking ticket with a fine that is administered by a ticket officer representing the council.
The parking ticket itself should expressly say which council the ticket has been issued on behalf of.
The ticket will also provide details of how you are to pay your fine, and occasionally how you can appeal your fine.
If there is no such inform
ation you should contact the local council concerned who will put you through to the appropriate department.
The appeals process normally provides a 14-day window between the time the ticket was administered and the time by which you need to appeal. If you fail to appeal within the 14-day period then, generally, you will be barred from appealing whatever your grounds of appeal are, and forced to pay the fine.
If your appeal is unsuccessful and you wish to take it further you should contact the Traffic Penalty Tribunal who will provide details on a further appeal.
One other possible route is to contact your solicitor to make an application for a judicial review of the penalty. This is a process which allows decisions made by local authorities to be effectively set aside, and force them to make the decision again.
There are two particular points to note with this however: firstly, judicial review is extremely expensive and so it would be totally unproportionate to use against a parking fine unless it was extremely hefty or unjust and, secondly, you can only apply for judicial review once you have exhausted all other possibilities i.e. the appeal and contacting the Traffic Penalty Tribunal.
Fixed penalty notice
A fixed penalty notice will generally be admistered by the police rather than a local council. The police have powers to administer fines for parking where local authorities do not.
However, most fixed penalty notices will be for other car offences such as not wearing a seatbelt etc.
In order to appeal against a fixed penalty notice you will have to attend the local magistrate’s court.
Whilst a solicitor will be able to advise you on the magistrate’s court procedure, it would be wise to see if this is cost proportionate in regard to the fine you are appealing against.
Generally you will have 28 days to appeal against a fixed penalty notice. Often, however, if you do not appeal or pay the fine within the 28-day period, the fine will increase and continue to do so until you pay.
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