Parking Fines: What do you need to know?

Each year millions of motorists across the UK receive parking fines. 

Most grudge them, but ultimately pay them.

Others don’t and bin them, oblivious to the possible consequences of not paying them.

Some, believe if it is from a private firm, it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on.

However, did you know that Parking Fines can damage your Credit Score, see your car clamped, or in the worst case scenario, see you arrested as you travel through an airport to go on holiday?

It is worth knowing your Parking Fines.

What is the truth about Parking Fines?

There are essentially three types of Parking fines you can receive:

  • Those issued by the Police or Traffic Wardens;
  • Those issued by Local Authorities and Parking Attendants; and
  • Finally those issued by Private Firms.

Different Reasons for and Different Types of Parking Fines

There are multiple reasons why you may be issued with a parking fine. 

You may have parked on a double yellow line or in a pay and display car park and not displayed a ticket; or you may have over-stayed your welcome; or parked in a disabled parking spot.

Normally, when you park on public land, this is managed by a local authority, but you may also get a parking ticket from the Police or a Traffic Warden where you have parked illegally.  

The difference between the parking tickets you receive from the Police and Traffic Wardens and those issued by local authorities and private firms, is those those issued by Police Officers and Traffic Wardens are issued when you commit a road traffic offence, which can include a parking offence. Those issued by a local authority or a private firm are when you commit a civil wrong, rather than a criminal one.

Can Parking Fines Affect your Credit Score?

Parking Fines normally don’t affect your Credit Score. 

However, if a decree (court order) is obtained against you for a private parking charge and goes unsettled for 30 days, after it is awarded, it will be registered on your Credit Report.

It will then affect your Credit Score and impact on your ability to borrow.

Decrees (Scottish CCJs) remain on your Credit Report for 6 years.

Can your Vehicle be Clamped for a Parking Violation?

Wheel clamping has been banned in Scotland since 1992, but there are still some circumstances when your car can be clamped.

These are when you don’t pay a fine issued by the Courts, or where you park your car in or around an airport (this will normally be done by the Police, or a firm working for them).

If your vehicle is clamped, even wrongly, you should not remove the clamp yourself, but contact the Police. If you remove the clamp yourself you could find yourself charged with vandalism.

Parking (Code of Practice) Act 2019

The Parking (Code of Practice) Act 2019 was passed by the UK Parliament in March 2019. It provides the Secretary of State with new powers to issue guidance to private parking firms and to issue guidance relating to fees and penalties.

As at the time of writing this article, this Code of Practice has not been produced. It will apply across the whole of the UK.

Sorry.  Due to the volume of questions, I am no longer able to answer questions relating to Parking fines.

Readers Questions

  1. Leah

    I work as an support worker providing essential support to people with severe mental and physical health difficulties. When I started at my work I was given a photocopied contractors parking permit by my boss for the private (housing association – Edinburgh) car park beside my office. To be clear, the office is actually a rented housing association house in a block of flats. Today I got a fine which stated that I had an unauthorised photocopied fine. So did one of my co workers. I am going to speak to my boss about it tomorrow, but honestly I have no intention of paying the fine. I do not think this is my fault whatsoever. The only thing I am afraid of is my credit score because I had a CCJ previously which is about to come off my credit history at the end of this year so I would like to avoid a similar situation again. What advice would you give regarding this?

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Leah

      Thank you for getting in touch, and so soon after it has happened. If more people sought good advice at this stage, it would solve a lot of problems later.

      First, of the parking ticket should have information on it about how to appeal it, so that is exactly what you should do and obtain a letter from your Employer that supports your appeal. It may be that people have been using forged parking passes, and this is what has led to you getting the ticket. It may be a overly zealous parking attendant, but either way, if your employer has given you the pass and they support you, I cannot see how this fine cannot be waived.

      If it isn’t I would be asking your employer to pay it as they led you to believe the pass you used, during your work, was sufficient.

      In terms of your credit rating, don’t worry. This won’t affect your Credit Rating at this stage. It would have to go to Court and they would have to receive a Court Order against you. You are no where near that stage at this time, so hopefully, it can be resolved by an appeal or a phone call by your employer and you can get a proper parking pass next time.

      1. Leah

        Thanks so much for your quick reply!

  2. AV

    Thank you for your reply, I very much appreciate you clearing that up for me.

  3. AV

    New parking restrictions were introduced at my usually free daily car park in 2016. I had parked for there for 3 days until it was brought to my attention as multiple colleagues had done the same without noticing the new signs. Our union had advised us that the fines were not enforceable in Scotland and had contacted our local MSP to complain about the parking restrictions so I did not pay the fines. I have now received 3 notices for £160 each totalling £480 from a debt collection agency. They state in the small print that this case is not subject to High Court or Bailiff action. I am about to increase my mortgage and am worried that this situation having arisen in 2016 will affect my mortgage application. Can you clarify this for me please?

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi AV
      It won’t affect your mortgage at this point as it is just a claim they have against you. If they ever took you to Court and obtained a decree, that would affect your Credit Rating, but until they do that, it won’t have any impact. I cannot tell you the significance of the small print, but it may be they have no intention of every litigating on this debt, which is possible, so it may never progress beyond just sending you letters. Unfortunately, However, I cannot give you any guarantees.

  4. Eva K.

    I have a question about unpaid parking charge. In 2017 I was visited by my extended family from abroad and borrowed my car to my uncle who forgot to get a ticket in private car park. He recently passed away and I am not nor was I in touch with the company demanding the fine. To be honest I received some letters in 2017 and ignored them and for a few years it was quiet. Now they started badgering me again. However it is a different company and I am guessing they sold my debt onto somebody else. Now my question is what do I do. Everybody I know says ignore it, it is only an invoice but they make it sound threatening. I don’t want to pay. What are my options?

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Eva.
      Unfortunately, I cannot tell you what to do. You have basically been ignoring it since 2017. Ultimately, they are entitled to pursue you, but effectively, all they can do is send you letters. I cannot tell you whether at some point they may decide to take it further or not. They may. They may not. However, at present they believe you owe them this money, so they may continue to pursue you. You just have to decide whether you are prepared to continue ignoring them or not. In theory they may take you to court, however, they may not.

  5. Gordon

    My partner has just received a letter from a debt collector about a PCN for using a disabled space in 2017, four years ago. She has no recollection of receiving any notice at the time. Her mother was alive then, is now deceased and was a disabled blue badge holder so my partner did correctly use disabled spaces when taking her mother to the shops. Does she have to pay? Is the onus on her to prove that she did display a blue badge or even that she was not driving the vehicle at the time?

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Gordon

      Sorry, I am not able to tell you whether she needs to pay or not. Essentially, your Partner has received a notice from several years ago, so the time to challenge it would normally have been then. However, you are saying she has never heard anything since then? I would be inclined to ask them to provide evidence that she wrongfully parked where they say she did, and that no Blue Badge was displayed. The onus is on them to prove your Partner broke the rules, so I would expect to be provided by a photo stamped photograph at the very least.

  6. Michelle


    I received a PCN back in 2019 for parking in a privately owned car park.

    I was surprised when I received this, but was not issued with a receipt, I paid via a machine on site and am assuming there was CCTV. I have now been issued with a letter before claim, after the first letter I sought advice from Citizens Advise to see what to do.

    I also carried lots of research and ‘Smart Parking Limited’ seem to be classed as cowboys. Should I be consulting a lawyer, the appeal process through their own website didn’t work well, they didn’t seem to want to discuss and they are now saying I owe £170.00. The parking was on a Sunday, I remember the cost because my Aunt was over from America and I researched cheapest place to park in Glasgow. They haven’t provided me with details about whether they think I didn’t pay or underpaid. If it went to court, would it cost me more than £170 and should I be consulting a lawyer.

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Michelle

      I am sorry you have had this problem.

      Do you remember paying? Do you know how you paid? By card? There may still be a record on your bank statement to show you paid.

      Smart Parking should have specified what breach of the agreement you made and also should be able to provide you with proof.

      They are also members of the British Parking Association, so you can take your complaint to them if the firm is pursuing you for a debt and has not specified what the breach was for or provided any evidence.

      I honestly would no worry about a lawyer just now, that will just cost you more money and as yet they have not raised any court action.

      I would submit a complaint about them to the British Parking Association.

      You can also look into whether you can still appeal via POPLA, but it may be too late.

      Remember if they do take you to Court, and there is no guarantee they will, the onus is on them to evidence that you broke the agreement and they must have to specify why. They also have to provide evidence if you challenge them.

      So, if you do receive any court paperwork you can contact your local Citizen Advice Bureau or advice agency.

  7. Donald

    Hi Alan

    My wife is an NHS Doctor in Scotland who received a Parking Charge Notice from Parking Awareness Services for parking in her work car park. She parks in the same car park every day she goes to work, and has done so for years. On the day in question she used my car to go to work as hers was not available and she had patients booked in. This had not previously been registered on the system, but is now. She is now being chased by a debt collector for £160 and threatened with legal action. We informed Parking Awareness Services that my wife works in the building, is entitled to use the car park and is now registered to park there using either of our cars. The response was this was irrelevant, she wasn’t registered to use my car at the time and so is due to pay the penalty (originally £60). We originally planned to ignore on basis this is clearly ridiculous as it is her official work car park. According to Citizens’ Advice Scotland they are not aware of anyone ever having been taken to court for not paying a single PCN. What should we do? Thanks for help. Donald.

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Donald

      At a time like this, I would be surprised if I was the only person not shocked that someone working to help people may be facing a fine for going to work.

      From a strictly legal point of view it appears your wife broke the terms upon which she parked in the parking area, by doing so in an unregistered car.

      However, that aside, I think a bit of common sense is required here and I am shocked Parking Awareness Services have not used their discretion to waive the fine on this occasion.

      Could she raise it with her employers?

      In terms of her options. I am always very wary of advice that proceeds along the lines, we have never actually heard of them taking people to Court.

      The problems with this, is it’s what I would call pub advice. Its basically very common advice and the type you may get in the pub from someone not in your situation: just ignore it. The problem is the £60 fine then becomes £100-120.

      Maybe they are correct, but if your wife chooses to ignore it, I think that decision should be an informed one.

      It may well be the case, that they won’t take your wife to Court (but, they could wait up to five years). If they don’t, it’s just a demand and nothing more. Its has no more legal consequences then if I was to say your wife owed me £120.

      However, if they do eventually take her to court or sell the debt to someone else, who takes her to Court, the action needs to be defended or they will add on legal expenses. If they do, they would raise a Simple Procedure Action against her.

      If they were successful, you can expect several hundred pounds being added onto the debt in legal fees.

      Also if she then gets a Decree granted against her, you have one month to clear it or it will be registered on her credit reference file and remain there for six years (even if later paid).

      This can make accessing credit in future more difficult.

      Even if she does pay it off in a month she still has to apply to the Registry Trust to have it removed and there is a small administrative charge to do so.

      The consequences of this is it will damage her credit score, until sorted.

      My preference is, therefore, to advise people what these firms can do.

      These debts can be enforced and recovered and that is why I always say they should not be ignored. The Firms may work on the basis that most people will pay them, so they may be slow to take people to court. The ones that pay are low hanging fruit,so obviously they focus on them.

      However, that is not to say they won’t and, in my view,there is a point to taking cases to Court: people learn these debts cannot be ignored and more people in future pay them.

      Doing nothing is a gamble.

      My view is if people are happy with that risk, that is fine, as long as they are aware what it is and what the possible consequences are.

      I see, however, Parking Awareness Service are registered with the International Parking Community and also the Independent Appeals Service..

      Your wife can still appeal any decision to the IAS, up to 12 month from a decision by Parking Awareness Service. There is, however, a £15 charge (its free of you appeal within 21 days of the PAS decision).

      I am not sure, however, what the chances of success will be, if PAS have strictly applied the rules and have not broken any. It may be worth looking at the signage to see if it is clear staff have to register the car they are using and as I said, if her employers have any influence.

      Ultimately, it may be the fine has to be paid, which I appreciate you don’t want to hear, but if the debt does end up in Court, the amount owed could be more and the consequences worse.

      1. Donald

        Thanks for speedy and thorough reply. What would be your view on the following:
        1) Continuing to ignore. If they move beyond threatening court action to actually taking court action consider paying at that stage.
        2) Writing to them saying not paying and giving reasons, and also invoicing them for same amount for my time in having to write to them – saying any further correspondence from them would constitute acceptance of these terms.
        3) Pay by credit card and instructing Credit Card company to recover fee, providing case outlined at outset.
        Best wishes,

        1. Scottish Adviser


          In terms of the 1st option. I think that is fine, however once they raise a Court Action, you will require them to agree to any settlement, otherwise they can continue with the Court Action and seek expenses. They will, in all likelihood by that point want more to settle than they are currently seeking.

          You would have the option however, of defending the action at that point; but again the risk is if there has to be hearings, then their expenses can increase further, which they would seek to recover in any court award.

          In terms of the second option, if you indicate to them you will not pay, as a matter of principle, they may respond in three ways.

          1) Ignore your letter are continue to pursue your wife for payment;

          2) decide to just write off the debt, but I think that is highly unlikely;

          3) Escalate the account to their litigaton department sooner than later, if they have one.

          In terms of billing them, there is no legal basis for doing so. You have no contract with them.

          They on the other hand will argue they had one with your wife when she parked in their car park (it is considered to be implied acceptance of their terms when you drive onto their property. The terms have to be displayed on a sign before you drive on).
          You can say if they don’t respond that is deemed acceptance of their terms, but that is unilaterally dictating terms to them and no court would accept that. Contract requires offer and acceptance, that has to be express or implied. The person must do something. So someone sees a parking firms terms and drives onto their lot. That is implied acceptance. People cannot just write to other people and say if I don’t hear from you, you owe me £300. No Court would uphold that.

          Where deemed consent is allowed in law, its usually contained in an Act of Parliament or Regulation.

          Finally, in terms of your third suggestion. If you authorised a payment from your credit card, knowing from the outset you are going to dispute the payment, the Credit Card would be in their rights to treat you as in breach of your agreement with them and seek to terminate your agreement. It is acting in bad faith.

          Also although s75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 allows people to recover money they have spent when they buy something that is faulty or if they pay a deposit on something and the Company goes into liquidation, this is not the case here.

          Section 75 is intended to give people a remedy against a supplier or retailer, who either provides faulty goods or fails to supply a service. This is not the case here.

          I think you have three choices.

          1) Refuse to pay and wait to see if they take you to Court. At that point you can dispute the debt or settle. At this point unless you defend the action and succeed, be prepared to pay more.

          2) Appeal to the Independent Appeal Service, although there will be a £15 charge.

          3) Accept, that as unfair as it is, this is a multi million pound industry and Parliament, including the Scottish Parliament have recently passed laws that make it easier for these firms to operate, including introducing a Keepers Liability law that allows them to hold the owner of a vehicle liable when they cannot show who the driver was. In addition to this there have been test cases in the UK Supreme Court that established the legal basis for these charges, so they are recoverable if the firm does everything correctly.

          At the end of the day, you pay and draw a line under it; or you don’t and hope they go away.

          However, you have to accept they may not and may go to Court and if they do, it may cost you more to settle and if you defend and don’t succeed, it may cost you more again.

          It is just a choice you have to make.

          1. Scottish Adviser

            One last thing Donald.

            As far as I am aware the Keepers Liability Law that is contained in Section 95 of the Traffic Scotland Act 2019, has not yet commenced.
            It is, therefore, if I am correct, a defence to argue you were not driving the vehicle. However for the Firm to stop pursuing you they will want you to provide details of who was driving.
            They cannot, however, make you do this, but if they take it to Court, the Court may presume you were driving unless you say who was driving (they can do that).
            If you did disclose that at that point, they would have to raise the action against your wife.
            Again, as far as I am aware the Keepers liability laws are not in force yet, but I cannot say for certain, so I would advise taking legal advice on that.

            1. Donald

              Thank you for all these helpful points.

              Re writing to them, invoicing them for my time and saying that writing back to me would constitute acceptance of my terms. You say this would not be valid. In what way is this different from them saying if you drive into their car park that is accepting their terms (even if no driver could possibly have read the terms prior to going into the car park then getting out of the car to read them, by which point they will already have been deemed to have accepted the terms simply be being in the car park?)

              I should also say that the original CNP claimed a breach of less than 1 minute. No evidence has been provided.

              The original letter also made threats about CCJs which, as I understand it, don’t exist in Scotland. Does this not make the letter invalid?

              The original notice did not follow Notice to Keeper rules as set out in the Protection of Freedoms Act. Does this not make it invalid? (Ref Money Saving Expert Advice: )

              1. Scottish Adviser

                Hi Donald

                As I said it is your choice what you wish to do and I am not going to tell you what to do. That’s your decision.

                In terms of contract law and car parks, this is well established in Scots Law that when you park in a car park and the terms are displayed before you enter you accept them. The two main Parking Associations also allow a period of grace in their codes of conduct for people to enter and then leave immediately if they don’t like the terms. If you dispute the terms were properly displayed you should raise this in any appeal.

                The fact someone did not read the terms makes no more difference, than if they were to sign a contract and not read the small print.

                The Law takes the view there is offer and acceptance here. You sending someone an invoice and stating if they don’t respond they will be liable, lacks acceptance and failure to respond would not be accepted by a Court as acceptance of your terms, just like you failing to respond to their demand for payment doesn’t constitute you accepting liability for the debt.

                The issue of lack of evidence or only over staying by 1 minute, is something you should raise in any appeal or if you want to wait to they take Court action (if they do) you can. Its for the Sheriff to decide.

                The link you sent to me from Martin Lewis’ website related to the Protection of Freedoms Act and only applies to England and Wales in relation to Notice to Keepers.

                As I stated in Scotland s95 of the Traffic Scotland Act 2019 is the relevant law in relation to Keeper’s Liability. As far as I am aware it has not commenced yet, but its not really my area so you may wish to seek specialised advice on this.

                If it is has not commenced yet, then there is no keepers liability in Scotland, so you can argue you were not driving, but they will likely ask who was. If you don’t tell them, which you are not required to, they will most likely continue to pursue you. If it gets to Court, you can rely on this defence if s95 is not in force yet. The Sheriff just then decides if he believes you or not and may ask you who was driving. If he did not believe you, he can presume you were driving.

                If s95 has been commenced then keepers can be held liable even if they were not driving, if the correct procedures have been followed.

                For some people this is a matter of principle and they want to fight it and take it the whole way, which is fair enough.

                I wish you all the best and hope I was able to help.

  8. Joseph


    I recently charged my electric car for the first time at a Hotel Car Park. Although the signs indicated that ParkingEye monitored the Car Park I didn’t appreciate that this applied to the BP Polar chargepoints where you pay to charge. This wasn’t clear. Can you advise?



    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Joseph

      Essentially what you enter into when you enter the Car Park is a contractual relationship with the Car Park owner (which may not be the Hotel).

      They are allowing you to Park on their property, subject to their terms and conditions.

      What these are must be displayed for you to see before you enter the car park. If you then drive on, you are deemed to have accepted them.

      You, therefore, need to go back and look at what the sign said. If it did not exclude or make any exceptions for the spaces where you can charge an electric car, then it is likely they will be covered by the terms and conditions on the sign.

      The recharging facilities sounds like it is just another service they offer the users of their car park, but ultimately, it sounds like they expect you to be bound by the terms and conditions.

      It is not possible for me to say without having seen the sign and the car park.

  9. Martin


    I received a PCN notice from Aberdeen city council, the offence was 22nd January, and just received a NOTICE TO OWNER dated 10/11/20 to say I have to pay the £60.00 fine. I didnt know I had a ticket and NOTICE TO OWNER is the first I have knew about it.

    I wondered if they can still pursue me for this after the ticket was from 10 months ago?

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Martin

      Its extremely unusual it has taken this long for this to be processed.

      Normally the ticket will have been attached to your windscreen at the time.

      I am wondering if the delay has been the result of the lockdown.

      You still have a right to appeal at this time, now you have received the Notice to Owner. You must do so within 28 days of receiving it or pay the fine, or the Council can increase the fine by 50%. If you do appeal and it is rejected, you can then appeal to the Independent Parking Adjudicator. The Council at that point will tell you how to do this.

      You can mention the delay between the incident and receiving the notice and this is something they may take into consideration, but I am not aware of any “grounds” legally to object on the basis of the delay, so I believe it is still enforceable.

      Other than that, if you are appealing, I would concentrate on the grounds why you should not have received the fine.

  10. Kenny

    Hi ,
    I have received a £60 parking ticket for a 5 minute overstay in a council run car park, the penalty charge notice was issued by the local authority.
    I put a ticket on my car but came back approx 6 minutes after the ticket ran out.
    Is there a grace period to allow someone upto 10 minutes for delays in getting back to their car? The ticket charge notice must have been started immediately the time was up as the issuer took 10 photographs including from the parking machine at the other side of the car park and i was back at the car as the warden turned to walk away approx 6 minutes after the ticket ran out.

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Kenny

      Unfortunately, legally there is no grace period.

      It’s a cases of strict liability. The mere fact you overstayed, beyond the time the ticket allowed you to, means they can fine you.

      It will be reduced to £30 if you pay within 14 days.

      Alternatively, you may be able to appeal if you can show you have grounds.

  11. Richard


    I have been receiving letters from a private parking company that telling me that I have a fine (£160).

    I have physical and mental health problems and do not drive.

    I don’t know who was driving the vehicle when the ticket was issued.

    Would you be so kind as to advise me on this.

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Richard

      Sorry for the delay in responding.

      This is a Parking Charge Notice and you can read more on them by clicking on the highlighted text.

      You say you don’t drive, but I presume you have a licence and have a car registered with the DVLA as you being the Registered Keeper?

      This is where these firms get your details, from the DVLA.

      If this is the case, there is a presumption in law you were driving car, albeit it can be rebutted, but this is usually only by providing them the details of the person that was driving car.

      You can appeal the Charge, but they are likely to ask you provide the details of who was driving the car or presume it was use.

      These fines can be enforced in Court. There is a belief they cannot, but this is not true.

      If it was taken to Court and you defended it, I would guess the Sheriff would also expect you to say who was driving it.

      Read my page on Parking Charge Notices, it will explain the appeal process and more about them.

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