Parking enforcement

Parking Enforcement Process

This section explains the enforcement process for a parking Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).

For parking PCNs issued since 31 March 2008, the Regulations based on the Traffic Management Act 2004 apply.  These are the stages in the enforcement process. This section will take you through the enforcement process from the initial Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) right through to instructing of bailiffs.

There are samples of a Penalty charge notice and other notices that you may receive if the case progresses. These are examples and whilst some of the text is required by law the notice that you may receive may have a different layout or some of the wording may be different. However many adjudicators have found against local authorities based on incorrect and even unlawful wording.

Authorities are advised to seek legal advice when preparing their notices but you may find that there are some inconsistencies. A couple of years ago many hundreds of thousands of penalty charge notices were found to be invalid because they did not include the date of issue (the date of issue is a separate requirement to the date of the contravention. Both dates must be present)

There was a case in Harrow ( case reference 2080351250) where their PCN’s had the incorrect wording. They should have referred to “compelling reasons” that a motorist can use in an appeal however they didn’t use these words. Nor was there any mention of the right to view evidence which is also compulsory. Harrow council stopped issuing the pcn’s but refused to refund tickets that had been paid even though they were not entitled to collect the money in the first place.

What the law says

There are a number of stages at which the penalty charge can be challenged. First, immediately after the issue of the PCN, the recipient can contest this with the council. This is an informal challenge as it is not part of the statutory procedure and, cannot, of itself, give access to the appeals system. (does not apply to CCTV issued parking tickets – see below) However, councils are encouraged to consider challenges at this stage and the Association of London Government (ALG) and other regional authorities recommend that if an informal challenge is made within 14 days of the issue of the PCN and subsequently rejected by the council, the discount should be re-offered for a further 14 days Most, if not all councils follow this advice. Councils will accept challenges by a variety of media and on average up to 20% of all PCNs are cancelled at this stage (although the percentage is higher in some authority areas and differs from year to year)

Secondly, the keeper can make formal representations following issue of the Notice to Owner which is usually sent to the motorist 28 days after the penalty charge notice is issued. (Does not apply to CCTV issued penalty charge notices or penalty charge notices sent by post. as the penalty charge notice itself acts as a notice to owner)) (or on recovery of the vehicle if it has been clamped or removed). These representations must be considered by the council (and, if the vehicle was clamped or removed, are deemed to be accepted by the council if no response is made within 56 days). The 1991 Act sets out grounds which, if accepted by the council, must result in cancellation of the NTO and, in some cases, cancellation of the PCN. Broadly, these grounds fall into two groups;

  • That there was no contravention; or
  • That there may have been a contravention but that the person sent the NTO was not liable to pay the penalty

At this, and indeed all stages, councils may use their discretion in mitigating circumstances also known as compelling reasons.

If the representations are rejected, the keeper can appeal to the independent adjudicator, who can direct that the NTO (or PCN) is cancelled if he or she considers that one of the statutory grounds has not been met. The adjudicator constitutes a statuary tribunal and an appeal to the adjudicator replaces the previous right to have the case heard in a magistrate’s court.

If your vehicle was clamped or towed away then the following grounds for appeal also apply although grounds 4 & 6 above do not.

1.) The vehicle was clamped or removed when a disabled person’s badge was displayed.
2.) The vehicle was clamped or removed when less than 15 minutes has elapsed since a penalty charge notice was issued.

There are two types of procedure for the issue and enforcement of a penalty charge notice (PCN) (sometimes called a parking ticket) for a parking contravention.

The first is when the original PCN is either placed on the windscreen or handed to the person appearing to be in charge of it. Parking PCN Issued at the scene.

The second is if the contravention is caught by CCTV camera or if the PCN is served by post. Parking PCN Issued by post.

A Penalty Charge Notice, may be issued:

at the scene by a civil enforcement officer (CEO):

  1. by being fixed to the vehicle; or
  2. by being handed to the person appearing to be in charge of it.


by post in the following cases:

  1. enforcement is by CCTV camera; or
  2. the CEO was prevented by someone from serving it at the scene; or
  3. the CEO had begun to prepare a PCN but the vehicle was driven away before it was finished and issued.

Your Next steps: Select if you received a Parking PCN Issued at the scene or a Parking PCN Issued by post