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Guidance on challenging a penalty charge notice

Informal representations

Motorists may challenge the issue of a PCN if they believe an exemption applied or that there are mitigating circumstances that need to be considered.

The motorist has a period of 28 days from service of the PCN to send an informal representation.

If the informal representation is received within the period allowed for payment of the discounted charge (14 days from service of the PCN), motorists will be given the opportunity to pay the discounted charge (within 14 days from receipt of response) if the PCN cannot be cancelled. This ensures that motorists are not disadvantaged by querying the issue of the PCN.

Formal representations

The formal process of disputing a PCN commences on receipt of a Notice to Owner, which will be sent to the owner of the vehicle not less than 28 days after the PCN was served.

Drivers may make representations on the statutory grounds, but the Council will also consider all representations received. The owner of the vehicle is defined in law as the person in whose name the vehicle is registered at the DVLA in Swansea. The Council will either accept or reject those representations.

We are required to reply to representations within 56 days. If we reject representations we will inform motorists how they can appeal against our decision.


A motorist may appeal against the decision of the Council to reject their representations. The appeal must be lodged within 28 days of receipt of the notice of rejection. This offers the motorist the only opportunity to have their case heard by someone who is independent of the Council.

The appeal will be considered by an Adjudicator who is legally qualified (solicitor’s or barristers for example) and is independently appointed by the Lord Chancellor

The role of elected representatives

Consideration of challenges to enforcement is a quasi-judicial function and only fully trained staff will make a decision about the cancellation of a penalty charge notice.

Elected representatives may ask for and be given information on behalf of a constituent on the progress of a representation or appeal. They should not play a part in deciding the outcome of individual challenges or representations 


Mitigation is the primary factor in most informal or formal representations

The Council  has the discretion to cancel any PCN where it believes that the circumstances warrant such an action, and there will always be cases that do not meet any of the standard criteria for cancellation where the circumstances are such that the Council may choose to cancel the PCN anyway 

Under general principles of public law, authorities have a duty to act fairly and proportionately and are encouraged to exercise discretion sensibly and reasonably and with due regard to the public interest 

Making a fair decision on cases does not require that all cases are treated equally. It means that the individual circumstances of the case will be taken into consideration 

The Council's approach to the exercise of discretion is objective and without regard to any financial interest in the penalty or decisions that may have been taken at an earlier stage in proceedings 
Equally when a motorist or vehicle owner writes to the Council regarding the issue of a Penalty Charge Notice they should include with their letter full details of why they are contesting the issue of the PCN and provide copies of any evidence to support their claim 

Below are some examples of mitigating circumstances and possible evidence that could be supplied 

Mitigating circumstances 

Example mitigating circumstances for challenging a PCN
MitigationEvidence RequiredComments
The motorist claims that the vehicle had broken down and could not be moved.Confirmation from a garage or receipt for parts. An AA or RAC attendance sheetCancellation will depend on whether the breakdown was unforeseen.
The motorist claims that they were delayed in returning to their carAppropriate evidence to support that the delay was caused by circumstances that were entirely unforeseen, and beyond the motorist's control.Cancellation will depend on evidence provided
The motorist claims that were attending to an emergencyReasonable proof of an emergency e.g. credible report of an accident or incident.Cancellation will depend on the proof provided
Disabled badge holders forgetting to display the Blue badge and / or time clock or displaying the Blue badge incorrectlyConfirmation that a valid badge was held (copy of badge, details of badge)

Cancellation will depend on whether the motorist has previously had a PCN cancelled for the same contravention and has been advised to display a valid badge and / or time clock

The notice will not be cancelled if a motorist exceeded the 3 hours’ time permitted on yellow lines or parked where the Blue Badge does not provide an exception

The motorist claiming that they became unwell while driving or needed to stop due to their medical conditionMedical evidence of a condition that is consistent with the condition describedCancellation will depend on evidence provided
The motorist claimed that they stopped to collect (prescribed) medication from a chemistMedical evidence to support that this was an exceptional situationCancellation will only be considered if evidence is supplied to support exceptional circumstances. Motorists are expected to park legally when collecting described medication
A motorist forgot to renew their virtual permit or display their paper permit  in the correct manner

Permit records should be checked to ensure valid permit has been issued


Cancellation will depend on whether the resident had applied to renew their permit on time and if they have previously been issued PCNs in similar circumstances
A motorist forgot to display their paper visitor’s voucher or scratched off incorrect detailsVoucher should be produced as evidenceCancellation will depend on whether the resident had applied to renew their permit on time and if they have previously been issued PCNs in similar circumstances


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Page last updated:

June 10, 2022

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