Parking tickets are a strange phenomenon. If you get any parking tickets they seem to take on a meaning well beyond their real-world existence. We hate them with a vengeance even though we will have half expected to get one whenever we push our luck.

There are ways of winning the argument with the authorities when you get a ticket but few people bother as there is really too much work and/or expense to it and you have a life to live. However, a recent decision demonstrates that if you are sufficiently determined it may be possible to find something that was done incorrectly.

A decision of the Traffic Penalty Tribunal recently highlighted that ticket disputes should have been handled by local authorities and not their private contractors, so that in a series of case the tribunal ruled that motorists could demand the refund of their parking fines as well as being awarded costs.

It appeared that some councils handed over parking management to private companies, but in many instances have also asked them to handle any appeals against penalty charge notices (PCNs). This process is supposed to be handled by councils, partly because it would be a conflict of interest for a company to examine its own possible mistakes.

The Traffic Penalty Tribunal is the second point of appeal and an adjudicator, Christopher Nicholls, has spelled out that council contractors must not be left to process PCN objections. His ruling stated: “I find that no reasonable local authority could have concluded this contract met the terms of its regulatory and public law duties.” As a result, 13 motorists in Gloucestershire were awarded their parking fines and costs after their initial appeals were turned down by the county council’s contractor. The motorists were repaid sums ranging from £42.50 to £155.67.

The decision has widespread implications for people who may have been incorrectly fined. However, do not rush into asking for you money back. If you paid but not under duress you may not be able to take advantage of this issue. After all if you accepted your responsibility to pay and did pay then that is an end to it. You ought also assume that the councils have cottoned on to this issue and changed any arrangements so that they now comply. However, if you have a parking fine issue it might still be worth asking.