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Most people know someone who has received a private parking fine, most typically for over-staying in a private car park. These fines tend to come through the post about four weeks after the alleged offence and are made to look as official and intimidating as possible. In many cases, your best course of action is to simply bin the paperwork and pretend it never arrived. According to the RAC, many private parking fines are actually unenforceable. To find out if you can safely ignore the fine that youve received, read on.
There are a number of key legal distinctions between a private parking ticket and a penalty charge notice. Lets start with the latter.
A penalty charge notice is issued for alleged offences committed on public highways, private roads, public car parks and in fact, anywhere other than your own private property. Only the police and the local authority have the power to issue a penalty charge notice. Penalty charge notices are typically issued for parking infringements and other minor violations of the Road Traffic Act 1991. You cant ignore these, but you can (and should ) appeal them if you feel they are unfair. According to This is Money, the majority of appeals are successful.
If you want a hassle free life, ignore it. Throw it in the bin if youre feeling brave, or keep it for reference if not. There is a high chance that youll receive a few more letters then thats the last youll hear of it. In fact, up until very recently, it was unheard of for private parking companies to take people to court. For a dispute to end up in court, the private parking firm must be able to demonstrate a material loss from your actions. If youve overstayed in a free car park, this is impossible. Private parking companies base their entire profit model on panicking people into paying. They want you to take the better pay up and then forget about it approach. Dont do it. They bank on the elderly, the easily intimidated and the misinformed paying up and asking questions later. One thing to avoid is taking the issue up with the parking firm themselves. This will most likely result in you being bombarded with letters and demands. If you arent going to pay, ignore.
If you want to go by the book but feel the charge is unfair, you can appeal via the Parking on Private Land Appeals (Popla) organisation. The British Parking Association says that over half of appeals are found in the case of the motorist, which sort of proves that their members are unfairly targeting law-abiding motorists Again, dont appeal to the company themselves. If you plan to appeal, gather as much evidence as possible. Take photographs of the signage in the car park and demonstrate where relevant any obstructions. The best way to avoid hassle from private parking companies is to be careful when entering private car parks. Look for small signs and dont assume that enforcement isnt occurring just because you dont see a warden. Most private parking companies use cameras to record people going in and out of the car parks that they manage.