£58.5m Lost By Not Appealing 'Unfair' Tickets

The majority issued in areas where parking signage is unclear


School Run Motorists Face 120 Fines For 'Idling'

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New findings from car insurer LV= reveal that drivers lost £58.5m last year by failing to appeal against parking tickets issued in 'unfair' circumstances. In 2010, one in twenty (5%) motorists in the UK received a parking ticket where they had grounds to appeal. Despite this, only one in five (22%) drivers bother to contest a ticket once issued; but of those who do, nearly nine in ten (88%) claimants are successful.

When questioned, over half of UK drivers (53%) who do pay when issued with a ticket in unfair circumstances do so because they assume they will not win an appeal. Many drivers say they are confused about the procedure for appeals, with one in twelve (8%) not knowing how to initiate a claim.

The majority of 'unfair' parking fines are issued in areas where parking signage is unclear. Other reasons include misleading road markings being issued with a fine while walking to a machine to buy a parking ticket and being fined when the car was broken down. A small but significant number of drivers report parking attendants actually fabricating evidence to support issuing the ticket (2%).

The majority (49%) of tickets issued unfairly are given out on public roads but surprisingly one in ten (10%) are received in car parks of public buildings managed by local authorities, such as libraries, hospitals and GP surgeries. A similar number (9%) are given out in commercially operated car parks.

The cost of a parking fine varies widely across the UK but the research found that the average cost paid by motorists given a ticket in unfair circumstances is £42. The majority of this money is pocketed by local authorities, who issue nearly three quarters (74%) of tickets in unfair circumstances.

London councils make the most money per parking penalty issued, with Camden, the neighbourhood of celebrities such as Amy Winehouse and Kate Moss generating an average of £78 per ticket.

Local authorities are not the only organisations profiting from issuing parking tickets in unfair circumstances, as private parking firms are cashing in too. The research reveals that 182,000 tickets issued unfairly last year came from unregulated private parking operators. One in ten (11%) drivers issued with such a ticket say they were provided with no information on how to appeal at all making it difficult for drivers to contest the fine.

A little known fact is that these organisations have no legal entitlement to fine drivers with parking penalties. Despite this, cowboy parking attendants often use heavy handed tactics to intimidate drivers into doing so, with one in ten (10%) motorists who have been issued an unfair ticket on privately owned land reporting that they have been threatened with court proceedings or debt recovery action if they did not pay up. Actually, all they can do is send a notice that they intend to take the motorist to court for trespassing or breaking a contract by parking on their land. This is not a criminal matter and the parking firm would need to win a case in court proving that the motorist knowingly trespassed or breached a contract with them before they would be legally entitled to a penny.

John O'Roarke, managing director of LV= car insurance, said: "It’s shocking to see motorists paying out millions every year in unfair parking tickets, particularly at a time when soaring fuel costs are already putting a huge strain on drivers. It is vital that the appeals process is communicated clearly in all tickets, penalty notices and subsequent documentation to ensure drivers are aware of their right to contest a fine they feel is unjustified. Although the appeals process may sometimes seem time consuming, motorists should be encouraged by the fact that the vast majority of appeals are successful, and we’d urge them to take action against any unwarranted fines."

March 14, 2011