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This topic is often one of confusion as not everyone knows that there is a difference between Parking Charge Notices and Penalty Charge Notices.
The main difference is that Penalty Charge Notices are issued by local authorities, whereas Parking Charge Notices are issued by private parking companies. Despite lots of misinformation spread online, both are enforceable and should not be ignored.
Penalty Charge Notices
Penalty Charge Notices are usually issued in town centres or where on-street parking is available. Parking on public land is managed by traffic wardens employed by local councils. Where it isn’t, the police are responsible for enforcement. Penalty Charge Notices are issued for not parking correctly or for overstaying on public land. As well as for parking, you can receive a Penalty Charge Notice for breaking certain traffic rules, not paying for congestion/low emission zones in London, and for driving in bus lanes.
When issued with a Penalty Charge Notice for parking, you will have 28 days' pay and are often given the chance to pay a reduced amount within 14 days. The cost of the charges can vary from £40 up to £130, depending on the area and contravention. If you wish to appeal the charge you must do so within 28 days, if this is rejected then the choice of appealing further to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal is offered. If the charge is left unpaid and has not been appealed, or if appeals have been rejected then the original charge increases by 50%. At this stage, no appeal will be considered and the authority who issued the charge originally will begin County Court proceedings to obtain a CCJ against the motorist’s name.
Parking Charge Notices
Private parking companies work in a similar way when issuing Parking Charge Notices. Parking Charges are issued on private land, where the landowner has approached the private parking company to manage the land on their behalf. Many airports, supermarkets and town centre multi-story car parks are managed private land. The Parking Charge Notices are issued for contraventions usually agreed on with the landowner, for instance, parking in a disabled bay without a valid blue badge or for parking outside the bay markings.
Parking Charges can be issued with a physical ‘ticket’ affixed to the windscreen or in the post where an ANPR camera has captured the vehicle registration details. Once issued, the motorist then has 28 days to make full payment or 21 days to appeal. Private parking companies offer a 50% discount of the original charge if payment is made within 14 days. Similar to Penalty Charge Notices, if your appeal is rejected you are given a further 14 days to pay the discounted rate or the choice to appeal to an independent adjudicator. If motorists choose to appeal further then the discounted rate is withdrawn.
If the Parking Charge still remains unpaid then the motorist can then be pursued through debt recovery and litigation through the County Courts, in as little as 74 days after the Parking Charge was issued. This can result in a CCJ being obtained and further Post-Judgement action being taken.
Penalty Charges and Parking Charges have many similarities with regards to the process but the most important to remember is that they are both enforceable. There seems to be lots of incorrect information circulating the internet which many people believe and end up with large amounts of debt and a CCJ from ignoring a Parking Charge Notice. It's important to do your own research if you have received a Parking Charge, and if in doubt seek advice from one of the many free debt advice organisations such as Citizens Advice or National Debtline.