Challenging a parking fine or breach notice

You’ve received a parking ticket or fine that you think isn’t right.

Here is what you can do to challenge it.

Do you have grounds for a challenge?

To dispute your ticket, you will need to have a legitimate reason as to why the ticket should not have been issued or is not justified.

Reasonable grounds for challenging a parking fine or breach notice include:

  • You paid for a park but were ticketed because you got your receipt from the wrong machine or entered the wrong details
  • You paid for a park but were ticketed for not displaying the receipt correctly
  • You received more than one ticket at the same time
  • The conditions or rules for using the car park were not clearly visible

Step 1

The first thing you need to do is write or email an appeal to the organisation or business that issued you the ticket. This may be a council or a private parking company. Some parking companies offer an online appeals process. Be sure to ask for any photos of the alleged breach.

Explain why the ticket should not have been issued or is unjustified and provide copies of any evidence to support you. These could be things like a valid pay and display receipt or photos of your vehicle or parking signs.

Look on the back of your ticket or on the website of the organisation that issued the ticket to see where to send your appeal and what you need to provide. It’s important to meet any deadlines stated on the ticket to avoid being given any further penalties.

Once you have lodged your appeal, the issuer of the ticket will have a certain length of time to consider it. They will then reply to you and either accept or reject your appeal.

Step 2

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your appeal you can choose to take the matter further.

For tickets issued by councils

Tickets issued by a city council can be challenged at the District Court. To do so, you will need to write back to the council that issued the ticket and request a hearing to defend it. Or if you choose not to pay, the council could take you to the District Court. Challenging a ticket in court can be time-consuming and complex, so we recommend you seek legal advice.

For non-parking infringements (such as a ticket for no valid WoF or registration), most councils will waive the infringement if proof of compliance is provided within a set period (and if the WoF or rego had not expired for more than about a month).

For tickets issued by private parking companies

Unlike council parking, there is no streamlined statutory process to pay a breach notice as it is not a legal penalty. However, if you accept some liability but wish to challenge the penalty you could consider:

  • writing to the parking operator and offering a payment amount that you think fairly reflects what you owe. For example, if you overstayed by 30 minutes then this would equate to half the hourly parking rate.

  • including an additional amount to cover the operator’s reasonable administration and postage costs.

The parking company may accept your offer, or insist you pay the full amount plus any additional administration penalties incurred. If you don’t pay, the company may still bring a civil claim against you in the Disputes Tribunal, most probably for breach of contract. Alternatively, the company may pass their claim onto a debt collection agency. If they do, you should contact the debt collection agency to inform them you are currently disputing the matter with the parking company.

If the company refuses to accept your offer and you want to dispute the breach notice further, or if you have been unfairly clamped or towed, you can challenge it at a Disputes Tribunal.

Read how to take a claim to the Disputes Tribunal.

Advice and support

Anyone can seek free legal advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau to assist in challenging a fine. More information on parking fines is also available from Consumer Affairs and Consumer NZ.


Parking enforcement – what you need to know

There are two types of public car parking in New Zealand – council-owned and operated parking, and privately-owned and operated parking for the public.

Council-owned parking

Council-owned parking primarily refers to on-street parking, although councils in some cities also operate off-street parking facilities and carpark buildings. Council-owned carparks are regulated under the Land Transport Act 1998. This specifies minimum signage requirements and the maximum fees and penalties for infringements issued by councils – for many infringements the penalties graduate according to the time elapsed. However, the cost of parking itself is not regulated – the council sets the fees according to demand.

Privately-owned public parking

Privately-owned public carparks refer to parking buildings and off-street parking that charges for the use of carparks, as well as free customer-only off-street parking like malls, supermarkets or other shops.

Unlike council parking, all private parking is unregulated. There are no specified statutory rules governing signage requirements or penalties. Consequently, at some sites the quality and quantity of signage can be poor (or non-existent), and vary from one operator to the next. The private parking companies also set their own penalties, and, unlike council parking, these are not scaled according to time elapsed.

Because they are unregulated by statutory requirements, any penalties the operators issue are not legal fines. They are commonly referred to as ‘breach notices’, signifying a breach of contract between the driver and parking company. Although privately-owned carparks are unregulated, as with any business transaction, the parking companies are subject to the Fair Trading Act.

Some private parking operators have adopted a voluntary Code of Practice which recommends best practice guidelines for enforcement and signage. This includes guidelines on signage, enforcement and appeals.

Download: Code of Practice for Parking Enforcement on Private Land

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