This blog serves to answer the question “How Can I Appeal A PCN?” A Penalty Charge Notice can be challenged online and in some cases by a written formal representation sent by mail. It is crucial to correctly recall all the events surrounding your traffic violation scene and to take into consideration the type of contravention code you have breached while composing your PCN challenge.

How Can I Appeal A PCN?

In order to appeal a PCN, you must prepare evidence material such as video clips of your road journeys in the council and medical certificates for showing a serious health condition that you might be suffering from. Any kind of authentic evidence material can be attached with your PCN challenge but it must clearly show that the traffic violation never happened or mention genuine mitigating circumstances which greatly diminished your ability to drive your vehicle. 

When mentioning mitigating circumstances, the contents of your PCN challenge should be able to establish a clear cause and affect relationship between the health problem (or other reason) and your failiure to avoid a banned turn at a traffic signal or your failure to avoid breaching a bus lane (or restricted street). This is important so that your reason does not sound like an excuse for your lapse of concentration or lack of awareness of the enforced contravention code. Your PCN will only be cancelled if the council is convinced that your actions were clearly caused by an unforeseeable reason, which can only be made possible by using photographs or video evidence. 

Appealing a Parking PCN can be simpler as you can simply show your paid parking permit if you have been wrongly charged with parking without having one with you or provide a genuine reason for leaving your vehicle parked in the parking zone for a few minutes extra.

One thing you must ensure if you are sending in your PCN challenge by mail is that it reached the council within 28 days. You need 1 or 2 days to attach credible evidence material with your formal representation and 3 to 4 days for coming up with a plausible reason to mention in your challenge after matching it with your available evidence (and editing the text of your appeal for any weaknesses or unacceptable grounds).

In many cases, PCNs are not enforceable and you may be able to win your case and avoid having to pay your fine.

You could begin the process by speaking to an online solicitor for as little as £5. 

What is a Penalty Charge Notice?

A Penalty Charge Notice is a monetary penalty issued to drivers or motorists for committing certain traffic contraventions including violating Parking, Bus Lane, and Moving Traffic restrictions. A PCN is issued for failing to follow Parking zone, bus lane enforcement, and moving traffic restrictions mentioned in the Road Traffic Act 1984 and the Traffic Management Act 2004.

A penalty charge notice can be handed to you by a Civil Enforcement Officer or dispatched to your (DVLA) residential address by post. Traffic contraventions are observed by CCTV cameras and Civil Enforcement Officers before a violation is detected and the vehicle is charged with a PCN.

A PCN might also be issued for failing to pay road charges on time. You have 28 days to decide how and if you would like to challenge your Penalty Charge Notice. After 28 days if you have neither paid nor challenged your PCN, you will be sent a charge certificate from the Traffic Penalty Tribunal.

If you don’t challenge a PCN, you should pay the fine within 28 days, otherwise its amount will increase by 50%. A £70 PCN will be worth £105 and a £130 PCN will be worth £195, if you pay it in the 14 days after receiving your charge certificate.

How Can I Send In My PCN Challenge On The Council’s Website?

There are just 2 different ways of sending in a PCN challenge to the Council. You need to access the online formal representation form on the council website by entering your PCN number and your Vehicle Registration Number. In some cases you have to enter your PCN Number and your Contravention Code Number (mentioned on your PCN). Some councils also require you to enter a Web Code mentioned on your Penalty Charge Notice to access your Penalty Charge Notice details.

You need to select a formal or informal representation option on the website depending on the kind of PCN you have received. An informal challenge is only required for a CCTV Bus Lane PCN or a Parking PCN served by a CEO which had to be delivered by post. So generally if your PCN has been sent by mail, you have to submit an informal representation on the council website or by email, before you can get a chance to register a formal representation.

On some council websites you have to select the contravention code (mentioned on your PCN) from a list of options and then choose an acceptable reason for your appeal from another list, Here it is important to understand that this reason that is being chosen will also be the same reason you will mention in your written formal representation and you have to provide authentic evidence material for proving the grounds of your appeal as well.

It is advisable to prepare the contents of your PCN challenge by typing it into a word processor first and eliminating any reasons which cannot be supported by available evidence material or which do not conform to the established grounds for challenging the relevant contravention code. Once you have ensured that your explanation reinforces the evidence material you are going to upload with your formal representation, you can copy the text into the online formal representation form.

Evidence to use with your PCN challenge can be stored inside a folder on your computer by filming video clips of your road journeys in the council, which can be used to show how the traffic contravention never happened or help to explain your mitigating circumstances. Other evidence files in picture formats or pdf, doc formats can also be saved in separate folders for easy access.

You never know when you might be handed a PCN so it is essential to always be prepared with evidence from your vehicle’s journeys in the parking zones, road junctions and highways in the council. It will be difficult for you to suddenly come up with evidence to use with a PCN challenge within 28 days and all this information would be lost unless you actively donate some time and effort into collecting and preserving evidence material..

How Can I Challenge A PCN by post?

The second method for challenging your PCN which is available in most councils is by using the postal service. You can write your formal representation on the last page of your Notice to Owner document or in a printed downloadable form (in some cases) and send it by mail to the council’s address.

You must remember to attach evidence material with your letter in this case as it is an essential component of your formal representation. Photographs from the traffic violation scene filmed by a passenger travelling with you, medical certificates to explain your mitigating circumstances such as a serious health condition or a pay and display ticket (for challenging a Parking PCN) can be placed inside a small transparent file or stapled to your Notice to Owner Document. 

You can mention a checklist of your evidence material at the end of your PCN challenge to ensure that no item escapes the attention of the parking officer judging your case. Another important point to remember when sending in your PCN challenge by mail is that first class mail takes 1 to 2 days to deliver your formal representation to the council and second class mail takes between 3 to 5 days. So you need to send in your appeal by the 22nd day after receiving your PCN, at the latest.

This formal representation can also first be typed into a word processing software such as MS word to remove any unclear sentences or reasons which display a lack of awareness of the contravention code, as all such grounds for a PCN challenge will be rejected. You can write down the same sentences on paper once you have matched the text of your formal representation with your available evidence material and clearly explained the cause and effect relationship between any mitigating circumstances which led to the traffic violation.

Can I Send In My Formal Representation Through Email?

A third method of sending in your PCN challenge is by email, which is only available in certain council’s and is mostly used for sending in informal representations. In some cases the only way to send in your formal representation electronically could be through email.

This email must mention your email address, your PCN number, your vehicle registration number, your name, address and telephone number. You need to upload evidence documents or videos clearly stating its title in the file name. These attachment titles should be mentioned along with the grounds of your appeal so that they can be easily located and matched with your form.

You can mention a checklist of your evidence material at the end of your email to ensure that all your uploaded attachments are brought to the attention of the CEO viewing your appeal.

How Can I Successfully Challenge A Parking PCN?

You need to focus on the contravention code for which you have been charged a Parking PCN for and whether it is a higher-level parking contravention or a lower level parking contravention. A traffic violation relating to your vehicle being parked in a parking bay will be a higher level parking contravention, getting a £70 fine. For challenging these parking PCNs you must make sure that you never forget about your vehicle while it is parked in a parking zone or enter a parking zone meant for other vehicles (such as police or ambulance vehicles). 

Other mistakes can sometimes be clearly shown to be false, such as your vehicle not displaying a pay and display ticket, as it may have fallen off due to excess moisture on your windscreen. You have to show this happened by using a video clip or a photograph with an authentic date stamp in order for the council to cancel your Parking PCN. You can also show that you had parked your vehicle correctly within the markings of your designated parking space by using a video clip filmed by someone with you to prove that this traffic contravention never occurred.

It is key for you to be able to clearly show your mentioned assertion for the council to believe your words, the evidence basically speaks for itself in your formal representation. A lower level parking PCN served for on street parking violations needs to be challenged differently.and will require different items of evidence than a higher level Parking PCN.

A Parking PCN is served for breaching any of the following contravention codes (the codes are not stated by number):

  • For a vehicle that has been parked in a prohibited street during prescribed hours. Vehicles are not allowed to park on yellow lines during prescribed hours except those driven by a blue badge holder (a person registered as disabled).
  • For a vehicle that has been parked in a restricted street within 15 meters of a junction (on double yellow lines)
  • For a  vehicle that has been parked in violation of traffic cones in a street that has been closed off.
  • For a vehicle that has been parked in a resident’s parking zone without having a valid parking permit or a valid pay and display ticket.
  • For a vehicle that has been parked in a resident’s parking zone (in the pay and display bay) following the expiry of a pay and display ticket. A pay and display ticket should be purchased for the entire duration of time you might have to park your vehicle in a particular spot. 

So if you might need to spend 20-30 minutes more you should probably choose a different parking ticket in the first place.

  • For a vehicle that has been left parked in any pay and display bay not clearly showing the parking ticket. The pay and display ticket should be properly visible to the CEO or CCTV camera watching the parking bay. A 5 minute observation period will be granted to fix the situation before issuing the PCN
  • For a vehicle that has been brought into and parked within the same parking bay within one hour or any other specified no return time limit (after leaving the parking area.)
  • For a vehicle that has not been parked entirely inside the markings of a parking bay and with one full wheel shown to be beyond the correct limits of a parking zone space.
  • For exceeding a vehicle parking ticket’s time limit by 10 minutes or more. Blue Badge or disabled parking holders are exempt from this rule
  • For being parked in a disabled person’s reserved parking space without clearly showing a blue badge
  • For a vehicle incorrectly parked in a mandatory cycle lane instead of being parked in a parking bay.
  • For a vehicle that has been left parked on any portion of or inside a school keep clear marking.
  • For a vehicle that has been left parked within a pedestrian zone. It also applies to a vehicle’s entry into a pedestrian zone, as vehicle entry is banned from these areas.
  • For vehicles that have been left parked on any portion of the footpath located adjacent to a pedestrian crossing.
  • For a vehicle that has failed to move out of a pedestrian crossing area in time or has been braked or brought to rest by a driver on a pedestrian crossing.

How Can I Successfully Challenge A Bus Lane PCN?

A Bus Lane PCN can be served under contravention codes 34 J, 34 M and 34 F as well as 51J. Here either you have clearly breached the bus lane and did not know about the contravention code in place, in which case the PCN cannot be challenged successfully, or the traffic contravention did not occur at all and you avoided the bus lane during its operational hours (in which case you need to attach photographs or authentic video footage showing your point of view).

Anything in between cannot be successfully challenged in most cases but if you had a genuine health emergency which lead you to lose control over your vehicle and steer it into the bus lane, where you also immediately realised your mistake, you can mention these circumstances in your formal representation.

This condition needs to be proven by medical certificates from a certified general practitioner, dating from before the traffic violation and a written statement which clearly mentions the symptoms that led to an impairment of vision or other muscular problems which caused your driving error. If you add a video clip filmed from inside your vehicle to prove these actions and show how you had attempted to drive your vehicle correctly but were unable to due so due to unforeseeable circumstances, you will make a stronger appeals case to your council.

If you are sending in your Bus Lane challenge by mail, you can attach snapshots of the video with your written PCN appeal to show how you clearly avoided entering the bus lane.

How Can I Successfully Challenge A Moving Traffic PCN?

You must have a valid reason for challenging a Moving Traffic PCN such as the traffic contravention never occurred, because if it did then you will have to end up paying the £70 fine. If you did not breach the relevant contravention code (from the list mentioned below) then you must attach video footage of your claim or still photographs showing the same. You are essentially saying that the Penalty Charge Notice was issued in error and you clearly were driving your vehicle correctly.

Given below is a list of moving traffic contravention codes which could be mentioned on your PCN:

  • Code 31 Entering and stopping your vehicle inside a box junction or preventing vehicles behind you from moving out of a box junction. A vehicle may pause at a box junction for a certain period of time in order to make a right turn at the traffic signal.
  • Code 32 (Left turn) Failing to steer your vehicle or guide your vehicle in the direction of an arrow shown inside a blue-colored sign.
  • Code 32 ( Left turn ahead) Failing to slow your vehicle or steer it correctly into the approaching sharp left turn on the road. This direction is displayed on a traffic sign by a (left curved) white arrow enclosed in a blue-colored sign.    
  • Code 32 (One-way traffic) Failing to drive on the correct side of the road or approaching the (one-way) lane from the opposite side. This traffic sign is indicated by an upward pointing white arrow enclosed in a blue-colored sign.
  • Code 33 (Using a restricted street or road) Failing to adhere to the restrictions on vehicles entering a bus and cycle (only) lane. This traffic sign is indicated by a depiction of a bus and a cycle above it.
  • Code 33 (Using a restricted street or road) Failing to adhere to the restrictions on vehicles entering a tramcar-only road or street. This traffic sign shows a depiction of a tramcar, enclosed in a blue-colored sign.
  • Code 37 is applied to charge vehicles for failing to leave a space for vehicles moving in the opposite direction. The sign indicates a priority to be given to vehicles from the other direction on the road which means slowing down and keeping your car aligned to the left side of the road. The road sign shows a larger black-colored arrow pointing downwards to the right of a smaller red-colored arrow pointing upwards.
  • Code 37 (Giving way to oncoming vehicles) indicates drivers to give way to vehicles moving in the opposite direction. The road sign for the contravention has the following sentence printed in black “Give way to oncoming vehicles”
  • Code 38 indicates drivers to keep their vehicles on the left or right side of the road. This moving traffic contravention is indicated by a downward pointing arrow tilted toward the left side or a downward pointing arrow tilted toward the right side.
  • Code 50 (Making a banned turn) This contravention code indicates no right turn for vehicular traffic . The road sign for the traffic contravention is indicated by a red prohibition symbol on a right curved black arrow 
  • Code 50 (Making a banned turn) This contravention code indicates no left turn fpr vehicular traffic. The road sign for the traffic contravention is indicated by a red prohibition symbol on a left curved black arrow.
  • Code 50 (Making a banned turn) This contravention code indicates the prohibition of a U-turn at the location. The road sign for this traffic contravention displays a red prohibition symbol on an (n-shaped) arrow which shows a vehicle making a u turn.
  • Code 51 ( Not following a no entry sign) This contravention code indicates the breach of a no entry sign. 
  • Code 52 (Using a restricted street or road) Failing to adhere to the restrictions on vehicles entering a lane only used by non-mechanically propelled vehicles used by pedestrians. This traffic sign is indicated by a red coloured circle.
  • Code 52 (Using a restricted street or road) Failing to adhere to the restrictions on motor vehicles entering a certain street. This traffic sign is indicated by the depiction of a motorbike above a car.
  • Code 52 (Using a restricted street or road) Failing to adhere to the restrictions on all motor vehicles except solo motorcycles. This traffic sign is indicated by the depiction of a car.
  • Code 52 (Using a restricted street or road) Failing to adhere to the restrictions on all motor vehicles except cars. This traffic sign is indicated by the depiction of a motorcycle.
  • Code 52 (Using a restricted street or road) Failing to adhere to the restrictions on goods vehicles exceeding the maximum weight limit.. This traffic sign is indicated by the depiction of a goods vehicle with the weight limit, in tonnes stated inside the vehicle symbol
  • Code 53 (Using a restricted street or road) Failing to adhere to the restrictions on vehicles entering a pedestrian-only lane. This traffic sign is indicated by a sign displaying the words “Pedestrian Zone” above a circle containing a motorcycle and a car the days for the Pedestrian Zone restrictions to be applicable are stated under the sign. There are specific operational hours for loading vehicles under these restrictions stated under the sign.

How Can I further dispute a PCN with the London Tribunals or the Traffic Penalty Tribunal if the Council dismisses my Appeal?

If you have received a PCN from a council of a local London Authority or by Transport for London, you can dispute your Notice of Rejection of Representations (from the Council) with the London Tribunals. Your Notice of Rejection of Representations has a form attached to it which needs to be completed.and posted to the London Tribunals. What you will write on the form will be the text of your appeal to the Notice of Rejection served by your council and needs to be carefully composed by mentioning your mitigating circumstances which led to the traffic violation or by stating how you think the traffic restriction was never breached. 

The contents of your appeal to the London Tribunals need to be based around evidence material as the London Tribunals is rejudging a case decided by your local council and will be provided by strong evidence from them to contest the trial.

Regardless of whichever council (local London Authority)you have recieved a PCN from you need to send the completed form to the following address (and ensure that you allow upto 2 days for first class mail to deliver your challenge and upto 5 days for second class mail) :

London Tribunals,

PO Box 10598,

Nottingham,

NG6 6DR

If you would prefer a quicker way to send in your challenge to the London Tribunals you can visit the London Tribunals Website. You can also choose to dispute the “Notice of Rejection” from your council with the London Tribunals online by clicking on the “Access the Appellants Portal” button on this webpage. 

All you will be required to do is simply enter your Vehicle Registration Number, PCN number, and the reference number or code from your “Notice of Rejection of Representations” letter. Evidence to be uploaded here can be different from the evidence material you have used to support the formal representation sent to your local council but the evidence needs to be properly matched with the case you have argued in your appeal to the London Tribunals.

 The London Tribunals is an independent adjudicating authority and it impartially considers the case put forward by your council and your version of the events at the traffic violation scene. So if you have some crucial evidence that shows something new which escaped the knowledge of the council or the CCTV camera monitoring the traffic violation scene, the London Tribunals will consider these details to be true.

A PCN served from a local authority outside London can further be disputed with the Traffic Penalty Tribunal. The Traffic Penalty Tribunal is responsible for addressing challenges to Notices of Rejections of Representations from councils in England (outside London) and in Wales.

The Traffic Penalty Tribunal website requires you to enter details given on your Notice of Rejection of Representations, after opening this webpage. Once you have entered these details, you can click on “Next” to access the Traffic Penalty Tribunal PCN challenge portal. Before you can access this challenge portal, you need to click on “Start Your Appeal Here” on this webpage and “Submit and Appeal To The Traffic Penalty Tribunal Now” on this webpage. If you access the Traffic Penalty Tribunal’s main webpage, you need to first select the kind of PCN for which you have received a Notice of Rejection from your council. 

This can either be a “Parking” PCN or “Bus Lane or Moving Traffic” PCN, and then you will be redirected to the webpage where you have to select England (outside London). Once you click on England (outside London), you will be led to this webpage where you need to click on “Submit Your Appeal To The Traffic Penalty Tribunal Now”

You can watch this instructional video here to learn about your challenge process.  The Traffic Penalty Tribunal requires you to create an email address unless you already have one to dispute your council’s Notice of Rejection of Representations on its website. It is important for you to submit your challenge on the Traffic Penalty Tribunal Website within 28 days of being sent your Notice of Rejection.

Conclusion

This blog post addressed the question “How Can I Appeal A PCN?” The quality of the text of your PCN challenge is more important than the method of submitting your formal representation to the council. You have to convince the adjudicator by using the evidence material available with you, that the traffic violation never happened or to provide proof of authentic mitigating circumstances that caused your actions. Parking PCN contravention codes are completely different from Bus Lane PCNs and Moving Traffic PCN contravention codes, which can only be proven to be incorrect by providing proper photo or video evidence.

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