Brent Parking

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Brent Parking

Brent parking in Greater London is getting harder by the day. There appear to be further double yellow lines, more traffic wardens, a smaller amount free car parking and even superstores are now charging for you to park and shop with them...where will it all end?

Hopefully we can help you with your parking in Brent. If you have established a parking fine or ticket at the same time as parking in Brent, then we are here to assist.

To begin with there are 2 discrete types of parking ticket which are a Penalty Charge Notice and a Parking Charge Notice. It is essential for your wallet that you are unmistakable about which one you have received. If the ticket is a bureaucratic notice from Brent council or Brent police then you've been issued a PENALTY CHARGE NOTICE (PCN). Only the two bodies are allowed to issue PCN's and it means that you are being fined for parking wrongly on civic property. 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 Brent council or Brent police for recommendation on what to do next. Brent council will have comprehensive instructions on their web pages 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 frame.

Generally they afford a reduction (how nice of them) if you pay within a set period of time.

The notice should also include clear detail of what parking violation you are accused of doing and include any data, such as a photograph, which is being relied upon to demonstrate you committed the offence. Importantly, the PCN should also contain clear instructions of what to do if you want to dispute the penalty, along with details of the appeals system and the timescales involved.

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

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

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

More often than not, such restrictions will involve a set time limit, a necessity to pay and display or a no-return policy. The T&C's of the car park should be displayed openly and concisely on signs as you enter the car park and at further points across the location, along with info about parking charges and any subsequent charges which could be incurred for failing to comply. If you pick up a parking charge notice you ought to check that these terms are appropriately displayed at the car park in question. If you discover they aren't, you may desire to write to the business to appeal the charge.

The most important differentiation involving an official penalty charge issued by the establishment and a parking charge issued by a private business is that there is naught in criminal law to support a penalty or fine for parking on private land. Therefore they shouldn't be described as penalties or fines, even though 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 compensation. 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 Citizen's Advice Bureau, this cost ought to be sensible and in line with the loss suffered by the company, although extreme charges are common. This isn't 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 deem there has been an error and you should not 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 confirm their case in court, but it is advisable to seek advice from the CAB or a solicitor before things get to this period. Remember that the parking operator has to prove its case on the balance of probabilities.

It is also worthy to write down that, as things currently exist, the driver of the vehicle is the only person who can enter into a contract with the proprietor. For that reason if you weren't the person driving you may wish to inform the parking company of this straight away. Just because you are the registered keeper of the vehicle, you are under no legal obligation to bestow 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 confident that you have not parked in contravention of the regulations 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 prove its case. However you should let them know that you contest the notice as if not, you can be expecting a string 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 just.

The bottom line is it is 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 advise 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 buy.