Sevenoaks Parking

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Sevenoaks Parking

Sevenoaks parking in Kent is getting more difficult by the day. There appear to be more double 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?

With a bit of luck we can assist you with your parking in Sevenoaks. If you have received a parking fine or ticket whilst parking in Sevenoaks, then we are here to help out.

At the outset there are 2 separate types of parking ticket which are a Penalty Charge Notice or a Parking Charge Notice. It is imperative for your wallet that you are clear about which notice you have received. If the ticket is an endorsed notice from Sevenoaks council or Sevenoaks police then you've 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 property. Such an offence is backed up by criminal law and you can be fined or end up in court for non-payment of the fines.

If you have received a PCN issued by a council or police force then you ought to refer to the Sevenoaks council or Sevenoaks police for instruction on what to do after that. Sevenoaks council will have meticulous information 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 limit.

Habitually they grant a discount (how nice of them) if you pay within a set period of time.

The PCN ought to also include clear detail of what parking violation you are accused of committing and include any data, such as a video, which is being relied upon to verify you committed the offence. Significantly, the Penalty Charge Notice should also contain 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 reservation as to what to do when you obtain a penalty charge notice, it is always a nice idea to seek separate opinion from the Sevenoaks Citizen's Advice Bureau, or a Sevenoaks lawyer. The Law Society can provide details of a Sevenoaks solicitor.

If you have got a Parking Charge Notice then you have received this from a private parking company. A private parking business is an organisation which has entered into an agreement with a landowner 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 customarily 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 hence entering into an agreement with the business running the car park.

More often than not, such restrictions will comprise a set time limit, a requisite 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 further points across the site, along with information about parking charges and any consequent charges which could be incurred for failing to comply. If you collect a parking charge notice you should check that these terms are appropriately displayed at the car park in question. If you find they aren't, you may desire to write to the business to appeal the charge.

The chief distinction linking an official penalty charge issued by the authorities and a parking charge issued by a private business is that there is nothing in criminal law to support a penalty or fine for parking on private land. For that reason they shouldn't be described as penalties or fines, even though loads of 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 an entitlement for compensation. The total they ask for is to compensate for you breaching the contract you created when you parked on the land in question. According to the CAB, this cost ought to be acceptable and in line with the loss suffered by the company, even though excessive 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 suppose there has been a blunder 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 offer proof of their argument 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 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 crucial to write down that, as things presently stand, the driver of the vehicle is the only person who can enter into a contract with the property-owner. Thus if you weren't the person driving you may wish to inform the parking company of this right 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 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 count on a succession 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. Consequently, 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's going to be very difficult for these companies to show 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 contact 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 stuff you want to purchase.