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21% spike in number of parking fines transferred to bailiffs


Local governments across England and Wales passed more than 1.1 million parking fines to bailiffs for collection during 2018/19 – a 21% increase on the previous year.

Figures released by debt charity The Money Advice Trust following a string of Freedom of Information requests also reveal that some smaller, cash-strapped, local councils have increased the number of fines they are passing to bailiffs by as much as 55%.

It is believed the increase is related to a rise in the number of fines that councils are issuing.

What type of parking fines are there?

Essentially there are three different types of parking fines you can get. They all are different and have different effects.

  • The first is a Fixed Penalty Notice that is issued by traffic wardens or the police
  • The second is a Parking Charge Notice, that is issued by local councils
  • The third is a Penalty Charge Notice and is issued by private companies

Fixed Penalty Notices

Fines that are issued by traffic wardens and the police are issued as you have committed a road traffic offence, which is a criminal wrongdoing and can include parking illegally somewhere that no parking is allowed. You have 21 days to respond to the fine, to challenge it, or pay it.

If you accept you committed the offence and want to pay it, you will have the opportunity to pay a reduced amount, providing you respond within the 21 days.  If you don’t pay the fine within the 21 days, you will receive a “Notice to Owner” reminding you that you still have to pay it. You will then be given a period of time to do so, after which it can be increased by 50%.

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Penalty Charge Notices

These fines are issued by councils, not because of any legal offence has been committed, but because you have broken the terms upon which you were allowed to park where you did.

This may mean you either didn’t display the correct parking permit or remained parked in the area too long.

When a Penalty Charge Notice is served, you can appeal it.

If you don’t appeal it, you will be given 28 days to pay the fine. If you pay the fine within 14 days, it is usually reduced by 50%.

However, if you don’t pay the fine within the 28 days, the council can increase it by 50%. They can also issue a certificate and pass it to the bailiffs for recovery. This may mean a bailiff turning up on your doorstep.

Parking Charge Notice

The final type of parking fine you can get is not actually a fine at all, but a service charge. These are issued by private firms, again usually as you have overstayed your welcome parking on their property.

The basis for these charges is contractual, as it is assumed when you drove onto their property, you accepted their terms and conditions for parking there. They argue that when you overstayed, you breached the terms of the implied contract you had with them and they are, therefore, able to apply the charge.

However, for this argument to work and be enforceable in a county court, the firm must ensure their terms and conditions, including notification of any charges, are clearly on display before you enter their property.

If they are not, or are hidden by the bushes, for example, you should take a photograph, as this could be successful grounds for challenging their charge.

Again, when you receive one of these charges and you accept it, the firms will usually offer you an opportunity to pay a reduced amount, if you pay within a certain period.

However, if these firms want to pass your debt to bailiffs, unlike the other two, they first must take you to the County Court. This means you can appear and challenge your liability, if you want; alternatively, if they are members of the British Parking Association or International Parking Association you can use their appeal processes.

It is worth paying attention to these fines and asking for the firm to provide what evidence they have that you breached their terms, as some firms have been found to be fraudulently claiming sums they are not owed. We covered this in an earlier blog on Private Parking Fines.

What can bailiffs Do?

If you don’t believe you should have to pay the Fixed Penalty Notice, Penalty Charge or Parking Charge Notice, you should appeal it.

If you do accept you owe the debt, you should pay it as soon as possible and hopefully, benefit from the opportunity to pay a reduced amount.

However, if the debt is ultimately passed to a bailiff and you want to know more about what they can do, visit our page on What can Bailiffs actually do?

Creditfix is the UK’s leading providing of Individual Voluntary Arrangements. To speak with a Creditfix advisor call 0808 2085 198.

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