I’ve received a parking ticket from a private car park. I don’t believe I should have received this. Do I have to pay the ticket?

Shopping centres, supermarkets and some private residential estates are classed as private land. Sometimes the owners of the land will employ the services of a private company to manage their land or car parks.

When you park on private land or a private car park, you’re entering into a contract with the landowner. Any signs displayed detailing charges or restrictions are the terms of the contract.

If you breach these terms, then the landowner or management company could issue you with a PCN.

If you agree that you have breached the terms of the carpark, then you should pay the charge. Typically, you will pay a reduced rate if the charge is paid within 14 days.

Can I appeal the charge?

If you don’t believe that the PCN is valid then you can appeal it. A PCN can be appealed on a number of grounds.

If the signs showing the charges and restrictions were not clear or misleading, you may not be liable to pay the charge as the company cannot enforce terms that you were not made aware of.

If you were not the driver of the car at the time it was parked, you may not be liable for the charge. There is no law in Scotland that states the registered keeper of the car is automatically liable for a parking ticket. You can disclose the details of the driver at the time, but you are under no obligation to do this.

You can appeal an unreasonable charge. Check if the company is a member of the British Parking Association or the International Parking Community who both recommend that charges should not exceed £100.

You can appeal the charge if you had a good reason for overstaying or otherwise breaching the terms of the car park. For example, if you had taken ill or you are elderly or have a medical condition which means it takes you longer to buy a ticket or return to your car.

How to appeal

If you believe you have grounds to appeal the charge, you should check the company’s appeals process which should be outlined on the PCN.

Firstly, contact the management company and advise them that you wish to appeal the charge. Make the grounds for your appeal clear and provide as much evidence as possible to back this up. You can send your appeal in writing although most companies will have their own process which may include appealing online. At this stage you can also contact the store or owner of the land to ask them to withdraw the charge.

If your appeal is rejected, then ask if the company is willing to go through the IAS (Independent Appeals Service). If they are then you can submit your appeal directly to the IAS through their website.

Can I ignore the charge?

It is important to note that if you simply ignore the initial charge received, or your appeal fails and you refuse to pay the charge, then the company may pursue you through the courts in order to recover the money owed.

Blue badge holders are not exempt from private parking fees. A blue badge allows you to park closer to the exit or the store but does not mean you are automatically exempt from the terms imposed by the car parking fine unless otherwise stated.