Are Parking Fines Enforceable?
March 2019

In Scotland the law regarding parking fines differs depending on where you have parked and who has issued you with the parking ticket. In the majority of cases the local authority or police are responsible for public car parking where tickets are issued by traffic wardens, parking attendants or police officers. However, private land owners can also send motorists tickets. We take a look at the different types of parking fines and if they are enforceable by law.

Private Land Parking

In private car parks a notice should be displayed in the entranceway stating the terms of use and regulations that motorists must abide by when using the area. By displaying these terms it forms a contract between the land owner and driver which begins when a motorist enters the car park. Where the terms of this contract have been violated the land owner or the parking operator can issue a Parking Charge Notice to inform the driver of the breach.

Before any enforcement action can be take place for an unpaid Parking Charge Notice the parking operator or land owner must go to court to be granted authority for a warrant to be issued in order to begin the recovery process.

Public Land Parking

Parking enforcement in public land operates differently from the penalty schemes used by private car park operators. In the majority of areas, local authorities are responsible for enforcing parking restrictions and employ parking attendants to do this. In these cases, if you don’t follow the parking rules, you may receive a Penalty Charge Notice. As most Councils now use the decriminalised parking fine model these notices are a civil matter, not a criminal offence. However in some areas, it is the police and not the local authority who are responsible for enforcing parking restrictions. In these cases, if you don’t follow the parking rules, it is a criminal matter and you may receive a Fixed Penalty Notice. While these fines are a criminal matter they can still be recovered by civil procedures.

Unlike the penalty schemes used by private parking operators, the parking tickets issued in public land cases are backed by legislation which allows the immediate instruction of enforcement action without requiring a Court Action. Where payment or an appeal has not been received within the time frame set out in the local area then the notice is passed to Sheriff Officers for debt recovery. In cases where an agreed arrangement can’t be put in place other recovery methods are used such as Earning Arrestments, Bank Arrestments and the Attachment and Auction of vehicles.

As a Penalty Charge is considered a civil debt, the revenue generated from these accrues to the Local Authority. The sums recovered are used to finance the enforcement of the scheme with any surpluses being used to improve off-street parking facilities as well as for general traffic management and public transport purposes.

If you have received a parking ticket and need further advice, your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau can help