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When you receive a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) from the police or the council, there are set costs and procedures involved in appealing it. But what about when it’s a private company?

Hospitals, supermarkets and other privately owned car parks are subject to their own restrictions, which must be clearly displayed on signs around the area so as not to cause confusion and an avoidable cost. The first key difference is that any costs put to you by a private company are just that – costs. They are not fines which can be imposed, but the issuer can pursue these costs through the court. 

So you’ve received a Parking Notice Charge. Now what?

Scenario 1 – You have a good excuse
Firstly, if you have a valid reason for not paying for the parking in the first place – such as an illness, then you can contact the company and explain why you won’t pay the charge. Lack of clarity on the rules is also a good reason to refuse payment.

The company can’t send bailiffs round to collect the payment, but can take the matter to court. However, they would need a strong case to make it worth the expense, and in the two above scenarios, they wouldn’t have this. 

Scenario 2 – You don’t have a good excuse
If you acknowledge that you owe the company money after overstaying or breaking the rules, but think that the charge is disproportionate, you can offer what you think is fair. 

Making the appeal
First make your appeal through the company’s internal process. If this is unsuccessful, you can take the matter further to Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA) service, or the Independent Parking Committee (IPC), depending on whether they’re a member of the British Parking Association (BPA) or not. 

If the company is not a member of any accredited trade association, they won’t be able to obtain your details from the DVLA to follow up on their charges. 

While some private car parks or signs threaten clamping, this practice is now banned in England, Wales and Scotland in a bid to reduce unfair practices.

Certain bylaws still allow landowners to clamp in areas such as railways, airports and ports, and the police, local authorities and government agencies are still entitled to clamp and tow vehicles which are unroadworthy, untaxed, or in the way.

If you’ve been illegally clamped on private land, you should call the number and inform the contact that they are breaking the law in doing so and ask them to remove it. They may be within their rights to ask for a charge for breaking their parking rules but not for getting the clamp released.

Those responsible for clamping your vehicle may be difficult, especially if they’ve carried out a practice that’s now illegal, in which case you should contact the police on the non-emergency number 101.


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Instructor Cover Plus is a specialist scheme for Driving Instructor Insurance, driving school insurance and ADI & PDI Insurance cover.

InstructorcoverPlus is a trading name of Watkin Davies Insurance Consultants Ltd. Registered in England and Wales (No 02102120). Registered office 2 Des Roches Square, Witan Way, Witney. OX28 4LE.

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