Parking Charge Notices (PCN)
If you have received correspondence from us about one or more unpaid Parking Charge Notices (a “PCN”) and you dispute owing the sums claimed, please read the information below which sets out what common disputes are raised and what the legal position is in relation to such disputes.
Our Clients primarily manage parking on private land on behalf of landowners. Pursuant to an agreement between the respective parties, our Client (“the creditor”) will be responsible for monitoring the land in question and making sure that motorists are adhering to the terms and conditions of parking on the land. Such terms and conditions are set out in signs that are displayed on the land and form the basis of a contract with the driver of the vehicle who enters that land.
Any motorist found not to have complied with the terms and conditions set out in the signs will be in breach of the contract and is likely to be issued with a PCN. Some examples of how you may have breached the terms and conditions are as follows: –
- Parking for longer than the maximum period permitted;
- Not displaying a valid permit or Pay & Display ticket;
- Parking in a restricted area where parking is not permitted;
- Parking on land which is to be used for customers of local businesses only (and you were not a customer at the time);
- Not displaying a valid disabled badge when parked in a disabled bay;
- Not parking within a designated bay / parking space.
The above list is not exhaustive and may not include the particular contravention that your PCN was issued for.
Where the terms and conditions of parking specify that it is for valid ticket or permit holders, the ticket / permit needed to be clearly displayed in the vehicle windscreen. Parking attendants who patrol the land cannot possibly know who does and does not possess a valid ticket or permit if it is not on display.
It may be the case that your ticket or permit fell off the windscreen / dashboard, that it was upside down or that you simply forgot to put it on display, but these examples still constitute a breach of the terms of parking and the creditor is entitled to issue a PCN if the ticket / permit is not clearly displayed, with all relevant details clearly shown.
If the terms of parking required you to purchase a valid Pay & Display ticket, but there was a fault with the machine, there would have been a telephone number displayed on the machine itself for you to report the fault. Some car parks do also offer a facility to pay online. If it was not possible for you to purchase a ticket at all then you could have parked elsewhere to avoid the PCN being issued. As you chose not to (and no successful appeal has been lodged), the PCN was issued correctly and will not be written off.
PCN’s are usually issued in one of two ways. Firstly, if the land is monitored by patrol officers, you may have received a manual ticket that was affixed to your vehicle – usually on the front windscreen or a side window of the car. If after 28 days of the ticket being affixed to the vehicle, there has been no payment, the creditor may have applied to the DVLA to find out who the registered keeper of the vehicle is and a Notice to Keeper would have been issued to the address provided by the DVLA (unless the driver contacted them beforehand).
Alternatively, parking contraventions may be picked up by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (“ANPR”) / CCTV technology, particularly where the terms and conditions of parking specify that there is a maximum period permitted for parking on the land. In this instance, the creditor will have applied to the DVLA straight away for the registered keeper details and the PCN would have been issued by post to the address held. You are legally obliged to inform the DVLA if you change address and failure to do so could result in a fine of up to £1,000.
Creditors will ensure that there are signs clearly displayed on the land, outlining the terms of the parking. These will generally be displayed at the entrance and exit of the land/ car park, as well as being positioned at various points throughout the land. The creditor does not need to prove that you read and understood the terms of those signs and will rely on the fact that the signs were situated on the land and that a reasonable person would have seen them.
You should always be vigilant when entering any land that you are not familiar with or that you know is privately owned and there are parking terms in place.
As set out above, correspondence will have been sent to the registered keeper of the vehicle at the address held by the DVLA. If you have moved house and forgotten to notify the DVLA of your change of address, this may be why you have not received correspondence regarding the PCN. However, the creditor has taken all reasonable steps to bring the matter to your attention and cannot be held responsible if the information held by the DVLA was not up-to-date.
As mentioned above, a Notice would have been sent to the registered keeper of the vehicle. Such Notice would have made it clear that in the event the recipient of that Notice was not the driver at the time the PCN was issued, they needed to confirm who was the driver and provide their name and address, as well as passing a copy of the Notice received to that person.
If no alternative driver was nominated at the time the Notice was issued to the registered keeper, then the registered keeper is deemed to be the correct driver and will be pursued for payment.
At the time the PCN was issued, you were provided with a 28 day period to lodge an appeal. Given that the case has been escalated to this firm for recovery action, the 28 day period has elapsed and the right to appeal has now been lost. Payment of the PCN is now required.
The appeal rejection letter should have advised you that you had a right to appeal to an independent body if you disagreed with the creditor’s decision. However, the time to refer the appeal to the independent body has now passed and the PCN remains due and payable.
A creditor has a period of six years to pursue payment of a Parking Charge (known as the “limitation period”). Court proceedings should only be issued as a last resort when all other avenues have been exhausted. The creditor will have made various attempts to recover payment before instructing ourselves to commence Court action and we are now instructed as all prior efforts to recover payment have been unsuccessful.
The terms and conditions of parking would have made it clear that a PCN may be issued in the event that there was any breach of those terms. Usually this is set at £100 and should be paid within 28 days. However, there was an option to pay a discounted figure (usually £60) if prompt payment was made within 14 days.
As payment was not made, either within 14 or 28 days, the creditor was entitled to instruct debt recovery agents / Solicitors to pursue payment and is entitled to recover the costs of doing so. It would have been made clear in the terms and conditions set out in the signs that additional enforcement costs may be incurred in the event of non-payment.
If court proceedings have not yet been issued, that is likely to be the next step. This will incur a court fee and further legal costs which will be added to the debt currently outstanding.
Even if you choose to dispute the Claim, this does not mean that you will not have to pay. You will be required to provide all evidence that you intend to rely on to explain the legal position regarding why you are not liable for the PCN. Such evidence will need to be provided in the form of a Witness Statement that needs to be sent to the Court and ourselves. You may also need to attend a Court hearing to give evidence to a Judge.
If the Judge deems you to be liable for the sums claimed, a County Court Judgment (CCJ) will be entered against you which may affect your credit rating for up to six years. That County Court Judgment may be for significantly more than the amount claimed in the Letter of Claim as a result of court fees, legal costs and accrued interest being added to the debt owed.