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Case studies - Parking Fines

When Diane West parked her car on a broad stretch of pavement outside her house, within the designated markings, she was surprised to find that she faced a £120 parking fine. 

She was issued with a penalty charge notice (PCN) for ‘parking with one or more wheels on any part of an urban road other than a carriageway’. She had parked diagonally at the end of a broad stretch of pavement in a designated parking area. There was no line at the side or end of the parking bay, but there were markings at the front. 

Other residents also park in the same way. All cars have to park there diagonally because of limited space, and because of the angle cars have to drive into the spaces from the road.

Diane refused to pay the fine and appealed the PCN saying that she was parked in a legal parking area. She provided the issuer with photographs to demonstrate this. 

Diane also pointed out that, when six months previously her fiancé Geoff had received a PCN for parking in the same bay and in same manner, his fine was cancelled after he appealed on this basis. 

The issuer refused Diane’s appeal, saying her vehicle was not contained within the parking bay lines.  

Which? Legal advice

Diane contacted the lawyers at Which? Legal, who advised her to appeal to the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service and when doing so to provide all available evidence. 

Outcome

The Parking and Traffic Appeals Service upheld her appeal on the basis that the contravention did not occur, as there weren’t any clear markings at the rear or the side demarcating the bay.

Which? Legal member wins her money back by arguing that signs were confusing

A Which? Legal member has successfully fought a parking penalty notice by arguing that the signs in a council-run car park were confusing.

Barbara Cummins and her friend Cherith parked in the Phoenix Causeway car park in Lewes, east Sussex, on 30 April.

A sign said that parking wasn’t allowed between 20 March and 30 April. Barbara believed this meant that the suspension period had finished, so she bought a ticket.  But when Barbara and Cherith got back to the car, they found the penalty notice and visited the council’s local parking shop to query it.

The staff there told Barbara the suspension was permanent, although the sign had made no mention of this.

Barbara and Cherith felt that the sign was misleading and appealed for the charge to be cancelled.

Our advice

Barbara contacted Which? Legal for advice. Our lawyers advised that she was right to challenge the notice as the dates on the sign were open to interpretation.  We also advised her to challenge the term as unfair and therefore unenforceable, and request that the council exercise its discretion to cancel the penalty charge notice to avoid lengthy and potentially costly independent arbitration.

After advice from Which? Legal, Barbara completed the appeal form and within a week the council cancelled the charge.

What the law says

The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 say that terms in consumer contracts, such as the sign in the car park, must be expressed in plain and intelligible language. If there is any doubt, then it will be interpreted in the customer’s favour. In this case, the parking sign left room for interpretation about the dates. When appealing a ticket, you must be aware of the strict timelines involved. These depend on the type of ticket issued. More on the procedure to follow can usually be found on the website of the local authority or parking company that issued the ticket. And you can watch our video on how to appeal a parking ticket on our consumer rights website at which.co.uk/ parkingticket.