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Parking on private land

Throughout the United Kingdom a great deal of the running of car parks and other parking spaces comes under the ambit of the local authorities as regards parking on private land. In cases where parking on public grounds is unacceptable a parking ticket can be given by the local government, by a police officer or a traffic warden. We think there are no other major categories barring Central government and judge-made orders. Parking offences on public land attract Penalty Charge Notices PCNs).

Parking on private land is almost completely different. There are parking Charge Notices (PCNs) in these cases, unfortunately sharing the same abbreviation: PCN.

If the property owner does not do it himself, it is private parking companies (PPCs) that manage parking on private grounds. The rules and regulations at work here are in another room, as it were, from public parking cases.

We trust we are advising you well what to do about getting a parking ticket for an alleged parking offence on private grounds.

The legal position is that if a driver parks on somebody"s or something"s (e.g. a corporate body) private land the law deems that he had entered into an explicit or implicit contract with the owner of the land or his agent. For this, there has to be clear unambiguous communication of the terms and conditions.

These situations can arise, apart from private individuals and their properties, from incidents to do with NHS hospitals and other quasi-governmental institutions with parking spaces.

The law says that if one parks on private land then, given the conditions and all connected factors the landowner and/or his authorised agent can give you a parking charge. Non-compliance with parking on private land conditions is a civil matter and not a criminal one. In the event of the case going to law it is to a civil court that it will go, unless the parking was apparently for a criminal purpose such as blocking the pursuit of a get away car after a robbery.

Regrettably, parking on private land is a partly unregulated sector of industry. The bright side of this particular cloud is that the British Parking Association (BPA) has a voluntary code of conduct for its members (who are not all the PPCs in the country) and it maintains a species of "appeal court" that is the highest appellate body for this part of industry before it goes to mainstream civil courts. This apex industrial court is POPLA (Parking on private Land Appeals).

At present POPLA is getting criticism on different fronts and might be changed for an updated tribunal.