A charge certificate is issued on an unpaid parking ticket by a local authority in the UK when all stages of appealing it have either expired or been exhausted with the fine still outstanding. A surcharge of 50% is usually added to the outstanding fine by the charge certificate and if it is not paid, usually within 14 days, a formal request to the County Court – in this case the Northampton Traffic Enforcement Centre (TEC) to recover the fine and all associated surcharges as a civil debt will be made. Councils are not obliged to answer any appeal sent in response to a charge certificate since a formal period of appeal would always precede and predate its issue.
What triggers the Charge Certificate and when can it be legally issued
A charge certificate is authorised by Section 21 of The Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (England) General Regulations 2007. It can be issued 28 days after the following dates if the parking fine remains unpaid under the following circumstances –
- Where no representations or a formal response to a Notice to Owner have been received by the issuing council within 28 days from the date the Notice to Owner was generated.
- If representations were made against a Notice to Owner but were rejected via a Notice of Rejection, 28 days after the date of the Notice of rejection if no appeal is made to the independent adjudicator
- Where an adjudicator has refused an appeal; 28 days from the date this decision was communicated to the appellant if the fine remains unpaid Where an adjudicator has recommended, not instructed, that a local authority cancel a ticket but the local authority rejects this advice; 28 days from the date this decision is communicated to the registered keep.
What happens if the Charge Certificate is not paid
If a charge certificate is not settled (remember the enforcement authority is not obliged to consider appeals against it) usually within 14 days of its date of issue, the council who issued it will be free to register the charge as a civil debt in the county court, in this instance the Traffic Enforcement Centre at Northampton (TEC).
Once the debt is registered, the local authority will be authorised by the court to issue what is called an Order of Recovery. This will demand full payment of the charge together with any related fees, albeit this time with the full backing of a county court order which carries the threat of possible Bailiff action to recover the debt.
Accompanying the Order of Recovery will be a Witness Statement form (called a Statutory Declaration form before March 2008). The witness statement offers a last, albeit highly restricted opportunity to appeal an unpaid parking ticket.
How can you ‘Appeal’ a Charge Certificate
At this stage the only avenue of appeal would be not having received prior official notifications of the outstanding fine or responses to representations made against it. The following categories of appealing the charge are offered by a witness statement form. It is a criminal offence to make a false claim on a witness statement.
1. I did not receive a Notice to Owner
The Notice to Owner or NtO is an official notification of an unpaid penalty charge notice sent 28 days after its date of issue if it remains unpaid; offering a chance to settle the charge in full or make a formal representation against it. If a witness statement to the effect that this notification was never received is accepted by the court, the council will be directed to cancel the Notice to Owner and charge certificate, but not the parking ticket itself. It will then re-issue the NtO offering the keeper the alternative of full payment or a formal representation or appeal.
2.. I made formal representations against the penalty charge notice (response to NtO) but did not receive a formal Notice of Rejection from the authority in response to my representation.
If formal representations against a Notice to Owner are made, but a Notice of Rejection is not received by the motorist, then it means the option of an appeal to the adjudicator has not been offered. In this case a successful witness statement made on these grounds would transfer the case to independent adjudication
3. I appealed against the council’s decision to the independent adjudicator but did not receive any response to my appeal
If this category is indicated and is accepted by the court, this is regarded as another formal appeal. The charge certificate increasing the charge by 50% is cancelled by the court order and if it has not already done so the local authority will be directed to send all appeal documentation to the independent adjudicator for a decision to be made.
If a parking fine is not paid within 21 days of the date an order of recovery is made or a witness statement is not made against it, then the local authority can apply for a warrant of execution. If granted, a warrant of execution empowers certificated bailiffs to seize the goods of whoever the warrant is made against, to a quantity and cost sufficient to meet the outstanding debt and associated expense of securing its full payment.