Your questions answered

What is a Congestion Charge?

The Congestion Charge is enforced by Transport for London and requires any motorist who uses a vehicle on any road within the Congestion Charge zone during its hours of operation to purchase a ‘licence’ (a Congestion Charge).

Failure to pay the Congestion Charge before midnight on the following charging day after the date of travel, where the vehicle is not eligible/registered for an exemption or discount, results in a Penalty Charge being incurred.

Full details of the Congestion Charge scheme can be obtained directly from Transport for London.

What is a Low Emission Zone Charge?

The Low Emission Zone is enforced by Transport for London and requires any motorist who uses certain types of vehicles on any road within the Low Emission Zone to purchase a charge.

Failure to pay the charge for a relevant vehicle before midnight on the next working day after the date of travel results in a Penalty Charge being incurred.

The Low Emission Zone scheme does not apply to cars or motor cycles. With effect from 4 February 2008, it applies to certain types of larger lorries, buses, coaches and vehicles over 3.5 tonnes. Minibuses below 5 tonnes, large vans, motor caravans, ambulances and similar vehicles below 3.5 tonnes are affected from October 2010. From January 2012 Larger vans, minibuses and specialist diesel vehicles will also be affected.

A charge of either £200 or £100 per day is payable for a relevant vehicle, depending on the type of that vehicle. Penalties for non-payment are fixed at £1000 or £500 depending on the type of vehicle, discounted to £500 or £250 respectively if paid within 14 days.

The Low Emission Zone applies 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, from midnight to midnight and applies to the whole of Greater London, not just within the Congestion Charge Central zone. 

Appeals against Low Emission Zone Penalty Charge Notices are to be made to London Tribunals and will be determined by the independent Road User Charging adjudicators. The procedures for appealing a Low Emission Zone Penalty Charge Notice are the same as for Congestion Charge Penalty Charge Notices.

Full details of the Low Emission Zone Scheme can be obtained directly from Transport for London.

Why have I got a Penalty Charge Notice?

If a relevant vehicle has been identified by Transport for London as having been used on a road within the Congestion Charge zone or the Low Emission Zone during the hours of operation without having paid the charge, a penalty is incurred.

A Penalty Charge Notice is then usually sent by Transport for London to the registered keeper of the vehicle, giving details of the contravention and explaining what to do next.

I don’t agree with the Penalty Charge. What can I do next?

The Penalty Charge Notice explains how to make representations to Transport for London against the Penalty Charge.

There are strict time limits which apply to making representations and paying the Penalty Charge.

If you do not make representations in time, you might not have the right of challenge.

Can I pay the Penalty Charge and still make representations?

Yes. The Penalty Charge Notice explains how to pay the Penalty Charge and make representations.

There are strict time limits which apply to making representations and paying the Penalty Charge.

If you do not make representations in time, you might not have the right to contest the Penalty Charge.

You may not be entitled to a discount on the amount of the Penalty Charge if you do not pay the Penalty Charge within the discount period stated on the Penalty Charge Notice.

I made representations to Transport for London but they were rejected. What can I do next?

If you do not agree with Transport for London’s decision to reject your representations, you have the right to appeal to an independent adjudicator.

There are time limits which apply to making an appeal to the adjudicator. If you do not make representations in time, you might not have the right appeal.

How do I appeal?

If your representations against the Penalty Charge are rejected by Transport for London, you should receive a ‘Notice of Rejection’ which tells you how and when to appeal to an independent adjudicator.

Appeals should be made by sending a fully completed Notice of Appeal to the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service.

The Notice of Appeal form contains only six grounds of appeal, none or which fit my situation. Can I still appeal?

The Regulations provide only six grounds of appeal. The independent adjudicators are bound to consider only the grounds of appeal set out by law.

This may mean that the adjudicator refuses your appeal if one of the six grounds has not been established.

However, each case will be considered on its own facts and evidence and the adjudicator will look to ensure that both parties to the appeal (you and Transport for London) have properly complied with the law and procedures.

An appeal may be allowed if an adjudicator finds that Transport for London has not followed the correct procedure or has acted procedurally unfairly at any point during the appeal.

How are appeals decided?

The purpose of the appeal hearing is for the adjudicator to decide by reference to the evidence, the facts and the law, whether you are liable to pay a Penalty Charge to Transport for London.

You can ask for your appeal to be considered by the adjudicator at a personal hearing when you can attend to present your case, or for your appeal to be consider on the papers and for the adjudicator’s decision to be sent to your by post.

How much will it cost to appeal?

There are no fees or charges involved in submitting an appeal to the tribunal.

If you lose your appeal, you will be liable to pay only the amount of the Penalty Charge Notice and any enforcement costs as directed by the adjudicator.

You will not be liable to pay your opponent’s (Transport for London’s) costs unless in very rare circumstances the adjudicator determines that you have acted ‘frivolously’, ‘vexatiously’ or ‘wholly unreasonably’ in bringing your appeal (please see section on costs blow).

The appeals procedure is designed to be free and not to discourage people from appealing through fear of paying costs and charges.

Please note however that any expenses you incur in travelling to the hearing centre, taking time off work or administrative costs will usually not be paid to you even if your appeal is successful.

See whether you can obtain free advice

Do I need to attend the hearing?

No. The tribunal recognises that many people may not be able to attend the hearing centre.

You can request that the adjudicator considers your case on the basis of your written representations and evidence.

You will then be notified of the adjudicator’s decision by post.

When is the hearing centre open?

The tribunal is intended to be very flexible. This is reflected in the opening times of the hearing centre.

With the exception of public holidays, the hearing centre is open for appeal hearings from 10:00 to 17:00 every weekday with extended opening hours to 19:00 every Wednesday.

The hearing centre opens for appeals at 08:00 every Monday. On Saturdays the hearing centre is open from 09:00 to 13:00. The hearing centre is closed every Sunday.

How long does the appeals process take from start to finish?

Most appeals will be heard within around 2 months of the tribunal receiving the Notice of Appeal, though this may vary during busy times of the year.

Why have I received a visit from a bailiff?

A bailiff may be instructed by Transport for London where a Penalty Charge Notice has not been paid or contested. Before Transport for London is able to instruct a bailiff to recover a debt, however, the following steps should have occurred:

    • A Penalty Charge Notice is issued.
    • If the Penalty Charge is unpaid within the time allowed (usually 28 days) and no representations have been made against the issue of the Penalty Charge, a Charge Certificate is then issued increasing the penalty amount by 50%.
    • If the Charge Certificate amount is unpaid within the time allowed (usually 28 days), Transport for London can then obtain an Order for recovery from Northampton County Court Traffic Enforcement Centre (TEC).
    • Only if the penalty is still not paid will Transport for London then instruct a bailiff to enforce the Order for recovery. 

    I did not receive the Penalty Charge Notice. What can I do?

    If you wish to contest the Penalty Charge, you must swear a Statutory Declaration before a solicitor, commission for oaths or court officer and file it with the Northampton County Court Traffic Enforcement Centre, declaring that you did not receive the Penalty Charge Notice.

    I made representations to Transport for London against the Penalty Charge Notice but I did not receive a reply from them. What can I do?

    If you wish to contest the Penalty Charge, you must swear a Statutory Declaration before a solicitor, commission for oaths or court officer and file it with the Northampton County Court Traffic Enforcement Centre, declaring that you made representations to the local authority but did not receive a reply.

    I appealed to the adjudicator against the Penalty Charge Notice but I did not receive a reply from the tribunal. What can I do?

    If you wish to contest the penalty charge, you must swear a Statutory Declaration before a solicitor, commission for oaths or court officer and file it with the Northampton County Court Traffic Enforcement Centre, declaring that you made representations to the Local Authority and upon receiving a Notice of Rejection, then appealed to the adjudicator but did not receive a reply.

    What is a Statutory Declaration?

    A Statutory Declaration is a formal legal declaration sworn under oath. There are only three grounds upon which a Statutory Declaration may be sworn in relation to parking and traffic enforcement. They are:

    • That you did not receive the Penalty Charge Notice;
    • That you made representations to the local authority but you did not receive a rejection notice; or
    • That you appealed to the adjudicator and you received no response.

    Making a false declaration is a criminal offence which can result in a prison sentence.

    Where can I swear a Statutory Declaration?

    The Statutory Declaration must be sworn before one of the following before it can be accepted by the County Court:

    • An officer of the county court appointed by the judge to take affidavits (no fee is payable);
    • A justice of the peace at a magistrates’ court. (A fee may be payable); or
    • A solicitor or commissioner for oaths. (A fee will be payable). 

    What will happen if I file a Statutory Declaration with the court?

    If the county court is satisfied that the Statutory Declaration has been properly made, it will usually make a court order cancelling the Order for Recovery and the Charge Certificate (and thereby cancelling the bailiffs) but the penalty charge will not be cancelled and will remain ‘live’. Transport for London is entitled to continue to pursue the charge.

    If the Statutory Declaration was made on the ground that you did not receive the original Penalty Charge Notice, Transport for London should then send another copy of the notice to you and you will then have the opportunity to make representations and follow the usual appeals process.

    If the Statutory Declaration was made on the grounds that you made representations to Transport for London or appealed to the Adjudicator but did not receive a reply, Transport for London is then under a duty to refer the case to the adjudicator for further consideration.

    The adjudicator will then decide whether the case should proceed to an appeal hearing in the normal way.

    How do I get a Statutory Declaration Form?

    Contact Transport for London or contact the Northampton County Court Traffic Enforcement Centre (TEC) to request a Statutory Declaration Form.

    You may need to make an application to TEC to file the Statutory Declaration ‘out of time’. You will be able to get further information from TEC.

    When you have completed the form and had it sworn, you should send the form to TEC, not Transport for London.

    How do I contact the Traffic Enforcement Centre?

    Telephone: 08457 045007

    Northampton County Court
    St.Katherine’s House
    St.Katherine’s Street
    Northampton
    N1 2LH