One of my favourite hobbies is to help my close family fight parking tickets. I have had a relatively high success rate (about 75% of the time) over the last few years.
Parking tickets are a nuisance and are often unfairly charged – and every year in the UK we pay literally billions (see here) to councils and private car-park management companies in fines.
Of course, it helps being a solicitor, but in reality there are a few important principles to follow which anyone can follow that will really help win your case.
In this article I share those principles along with a few template letters/emails that I previously sent with success.
1. Don’t fight cases where you are clearly in the wrong
This is an obvious starting point. Fighting a parking ticket is a fight – and you don’t want to get into fights where you can’t win.
This is particularly relevant for statutory offences, i.e. offences where you have broken a motoring law. Those are annoying too, but sadly there is much less flexibility in fighting them. If you are clocked overspeeding I would almost always just pay up or if I am photographed in a junction box, I would usually pay up.
You can usually tell if the parking ticket is based on a statutory offence as it will say that.
If a private company sues you on the other hand, they are relying on contract and don’t have any direct legislation behind them. You are much more likely to be successful fighting them.
2. Be timely in your responses & well organised
Don’t shoot yourself in the foot from the outset by failing to meet timelines. Any delay in timelines opens up a potential argument from your opponent that you failed to appeal within the correct timeframe etc.
Keep a good trail of documentation and emails. These days email and scans are best. I have a cloud folder for all this stuff. It is super helpful as you might not hear about a case for many weeks and months and forget the circumstances otherwise. Proper document management just levels the playing field as the parking operator will definitely have a case file with all relevant correspondence attached to it within easy access.
3. Be concise, factual, and evidence-based in your responses
Don’t get emotional in your response and write a magnum opus. Stick to numbered or bullet-point lists.
You can be suitable forceful in your language, but don’t be rude, confrontational or abusive.
Here are a few examples I did:
- This one is a letter fighting a PCN where I mis-entered my registration plate but paid for my ticket. This case has yet to be decided.
- This is a skeleton argument submission to a court to fight a complicated CCJ. This was successful in setting aside over £1000 in claimed debt.
- This is a first-round appeal where the car park was only for patients and patients had to obtain a ticket from inside. This was successful.
If you notice in all of these I give supporting evidence. On the last one, I don’t include the evidence, but Google Timeline in its Maps app is a great source of tracking whereabouts, especially if you used it for navigation. I believe Apple has a similar ability to track your historic whereabouts.
Once you start successfully fighting claims, you will instinctively know where you might be better off keeping a record of something at the time. I will typically take a picture or scan of items and just keep it on my phone just in case.
4. Where the law is needed, use it.
You should use the law where required but not use it wrongly or over-use it.
You shouldn’t overuse it especially when you are not in a county court claim and just responding to the PCN for the first time. Here, a generally reasonable tone and factual claims are best.
However, when you get to the country court, make sure you understand what the relevant tests are that the judge will be judging the case on the basis of and make sure you stick to it. This avoids you making points that are just not relevant to the issue. So for example if you are fighting a CCJ you need to carefully read Part 13 of the Civil Procedure Rules. Then all of your arguments should be focused in on the considerations a judge will actually look at.
5. Indicate that you are serious
If you draft a strong first rebuttal, with fully-evidenced claims, in good English, an average parking company will know its probably not worth it for them to continue to pursue you.
You will also indicate your seriousness by the tone you adopt. If you adopt a polite but firm approach and address the issues, again, a parking company will know its dealing with someone who will likely be able to handle things well in court (should the matter get to that).
By not responding, or giving a bad response, you sometimes can invite further action.
6. Do use the British Parking Association Guideliness
The British Parking Association Code of Practice is a document many of the operators are signed up to. Even for those who are not, it is still a helpful source of best-practice.
You can access it here.
There are a treasure-trove of good arguments you can come up with just by reading through this and applying it to your own case.
7. Do use these resources
This is a great treasure-trove of relevant court cases involving parking as well as templates and other guidance. I salute this website.
Sadly these days I can only help close family with their fights as otherwise I’d get no other work done given the volume of PCNs being issued every day.
But please do feel free to comment your tips and advices and successful precedents that others can benefit from.