Harlow Parking

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Harlow Parking

Harlow parking in Essex is getting more challenging by the day. There seem to be more yellow lines, extra traffic wardens, a reduced amount of free car parking and even supermarkets are now charging for you to park and shop with them...where will it all end?

Confidently we can help you with your parking in Harlow. If you have received a parking ticket or fine whilst parking in Harlow, then we are here to help.

At the outset there are two different types of parking ticket which are a Penalty Charge Notice and a Parking Charge Notice. It is fundamental for your wallet that you are unmistakable about which one you've received. If the ticket is an authoritative notice from Harlow council or Harlow police then you have been given a PENALTY CHARGE NOTICE (PCN). Only the Police and the Council are allowed to issue PCN's and it means that you are being fined for parking wrongly on municipal land. Such an offence is backed up by criminal law and you can be fined or end up in court for not paying your fine.

If you have received a Penalty Charge Notice issued by a council or police force then you ought to refer to the Harlow council or Harlow police for instruction on what to do after that. Harlow council will have detailed advice on their website outlining how long you have got to pay the fine, how to pay the fine and the penalties implicated if you fail to pay within the time limit.

By and large they present a markdown (how nice of them) if you pay within a set period of time.

The Penalty Charge Notice must as well include obvious detail of what parking violation you are accused of committing and include any support, such as a photograph, which is being relied upon to demonstrate you committed the offence. Importantly, the Penalty Charge Notice must also include clear instructions of what to do if you want to dispute the fine, along with details of the appeals procedure and the timescales involved.

If you are in any uncertainty as to what to do when you obtain a penalty charge notice, it is always a nice idea to get separate opinion from the Harlow Citizen's Advice Bureau, or a Harlow lawyer. The Law Society can provide details of a Harlow solicitor.

If you have received a Parking Charge Notice then you have received this from a private parking business. A private parking business is an organisation which has entered into a pact with a landlord to enforce any parking restrictions they choose to place on their ground.

A landowner typically supermarkets, hospitals, retail shopping centres - creates a car park or uses the one already there - they will set out restrictions regularly in a sign displayed on the land which you agree to abide by when you park on that land. By choosing to park on the land it may be implied that you agree to these conditions, especially if the notice is clear and prominently displayed and you are thus entering into an agreement with the business running the car park.

More often than not, such restrictions will comprise a set time limit, a condition to pay and display or a no-return policy. The T&C's of the car park should be displayed clearly and concisely on signs as you enter the car park and at additional points across the location, along with information about parking fees and any consequent charges which could be incurred for failing to comply. If you receive a parking charge notice you ought to check that these terms are appropriately displayed at the car park in question. If you find they are not, you may wish to write to the business to appeal the charge.

The chief divergence relating an official penalty charge issued by the establishment and a parking charge issued by a private company is that there is naught in criminal law to support a penalty or fine for parking on private land. Therefore they should not be described as penalties or fines, although various parking operators will label their notices a Parking Charge Notice, which handily also abbreviates to PCN (what a coincidence!).

In giving out a Parking Charge Notice, the parking operator is relying on the law of contract to make a claim for costs. The quantity they ask for is to compensate for you breaching the contract you created when you parked on the property in question. According to the CAB, this rate ought to be affordable and in line with the loss suffered by the business, even though extreme charges are common. This is not a criminal matter despite any impression given to the contrary by the operator.

The operator has no right to claim a parking charge from you without first taking you to court, so if you believe there has been an error and you shouldn't have been issued a ticket, you may wish to dispute the charge with the parking company as soon as possible. You should ask them to give evidence of their case against you. If you fail to reach an agreement with them, then, as with all civil matters, it is up to the parking company to bear out their argument in court, but it is advisable to seek advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor before things get to this period. Take into account that the parking operator has to corroborate its case on the balance of probabilities.

It is also significant to note that, as things presently stand, the driver of the vehicle is the only person who can enter into a contract with the landlord. Thus if you were not the person driving you may wish to inform the parking company of this straight away. Just because you are the registered keeper of the car, you are under no legal obligation to supply the parking operator with any further information, as you would be with the police. In particular you do not have to identify the driver or supply his or her name and address.

Indeed if you are positive that you have not parked in contravention of the rules of the car park, you do not have to contact the parking company if you do not wish to do so as the obligation is on the parking company to verify its case. However you should let them know that you contest the notice as if not, you can count on a sequence of letters from the company itself, debt collectors and solicitors, all warning of court action. However, the reality is that extremely few cases ever reach court because of the difficulties the private company has in proving its case. As a result, the letters usually stop. Even if a case does reach court, the company may have trouble convincing a judge that the charge is reasonable.

The bottom line is it's going to be very difficult for these companies to prove you are a guilty party in this. In 99.99% of cases the best thing to do is rip up the ticket and throw it away. We would recommend not to get in touch with the company (as you are handing them your details) or waste your time and money consulting a solicitor. Most of these companies do not provide proper signage - in other words they are easy to miss when you are busy thinking of all the things you want to purchase.