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Understanding Your Rights as a Vehicle Keeper Under the PoFA 2012

When you receive a parking charge notice (PCN) on private land, it's important to understand your rights under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. Here's what you need to know about keeper liability and how to navigate the appeals process if the Notice to Keeper (NtK) is non-compliant.

What is Keeper Liability?

Keeper liability pertains to the responsibility of the vehicle's registered keeper to pay unpaid parking charges if it is not clear who was driving at the time the charge was incurred. This concept was introduced by the PoFA 2012 and is accompanied by a set of strict conditions that private parking companies must adhere to for the liability to be valid.

An NtK must be issued correctly to hold the keeper liable. There are basic requirements set out in paragraphs 8 or 9 of Schedule 4 of the PoFA 2012, depending on whether a notice to the drive was issued first. If these requirements are not met, the keeper may not be held responsible for the charge.

Key Requirements for Compliance

The NtL must be delivered within certain time frames after the alleged parking event (alleged contravention). It must also contain specific details about the charge, the circumstances, and how to appeal. Among others, the NtK must include an invitation to pay, a warning, a vehicle description, and a parking period.

If the NtK you received does not meet these requirements, you may have grounds to dispute keeper liability.

Initial Appeal to the Operator

If you believe the NtK is non-compliant, your first step is to appeal to the parking company. This must typically be done within 28 days of receiving the NtK. It's important not to be intimidated by time conditions and to understand that you do not need to automatically pay the notice.

Further Appeal to the IAS or POPLA

Should your initial appeal be rejected, you can take your case to an independent appeals service, such as POPLA (Parking On Private Land Appeals) if the operator is a member of the British Parking Association (BPA) or to the IAS (Independent Appeals Service) if they're a member of the Internation Parking Community (IPC). Their membership would usually be stated within the NtK.

Please keep in mind that both the operator and the IAS/POPLA will only look into formal requirements of the NtK or breaches of the Code of Practice and not your personal circumstances. For instance, if you parked somewhere despite the restriction as a result of a medical emergency, both of your appeals will most likely not be successful. The court has more discretion to look into the circumstances of each individual case and might have a way better prospect of success there than during the initial appeal process.

Enforcement Process and Court Proceedings

If the parking operator continues to assert that you are liable for the charge and you have exhausted the appeals process, they may seek to enforce the payment through the courts. At this stage, the burden of proof lies with the operator to demonstrate that they have complied with all the necessary legal requirements, including the proper issuance of the NtK.

You should gather all correspondence and evidence that shows the NtK non-compliance in order to defend the claim. While not mandatory, having legal representation can help navigate the complexities of court procedures (usual procedures for small claims apply).


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