Did you receive a parking ticket in Norway? You are certainly not alone.
Never in my life have I received a parking ticket, but in Norway we have received at least half a dozen in less than two years. When talking to colleagues about this, they all can relate. Tickets are written easily and sometimes unfairly. Some foreign colleagues even do not dare to go places because it involves parking somewhere they do not know, with confusing signs, and they don’t want to receive another parking ticket that is usually 600 or 900 NOK (€58/$70 or €85/$105).
Here is what you can do when you have received a parking ticket in Norway:
- Check the license plate number, date and time of the ticket to make sure there are no formal errors.
- Check that the time of the ticket is not within a few minutes of you having parked there or within 5 minutes after the (paid) parking time has expired. Following § 36(4) parkeringsforskriften, the driver of a motor vehicle shall be given a reasonable period of time to familiarise themselves with the parking conditions and to make the necessary payment / registration before a control sanction can be imposed. A control sanction can be imposed no earlier than five minutes after the parking time has expired.
Once I almost got a ticket while I was paying for parking at the machine. These guys just try to grab every opportunity of making some extra money instead of enforcing parking regulations fairly.
- Check that the signs for parking are visible and correct. If signs have been snowed under, for example, you could not have been aware of the applicable rules or zones. But the burden of proof is on you, so you should take photos of the area after you’ve been issued a ticket (if they didn’t fix it by then).
- Check that the parking ticket is not due to a fault of the parking company.
I received a parking ticket due to a faulty machine. One of our friends received a parking ticket because the registration cameras on the exit of the parking lot were snowed under, failing to register the end of his parking period. Another was sanctioned while parking on his own property (and lost the case in court).
- If there are any other grounds based on which the issuing of the parking ticket was unlawful or unfair, appeal. It doesn’t always mean it will be solved – probably it won’t – but see below for the reasons why you should always appeal in case of an unfair ticket nevertheless.
- Alternatively, you don’t pay, don’t appeal, sit back and relax, and save your arguments for when they come to you for payment. That’s what I would do differently in a future unfair ticket case.
There are several steps to appealing:
- The driver can complain to the parking company that issued the parking ticket (§ 44 parkeringsforskriften). The deadline for complaints is three weeks from the date the parking ticket was issued. The decision from the company must be motivated and justified based on the facts of the case and the law.
- The driver can appeal to the Parkeringsklagenemnda if no satisfactory outcome of the appeal has been received within eight weeks (§ 45 parkeringsforskriften). If no response from the company has been received within three weeks, the right of appeal starts from this date. The deadline for appeal with the Parkeringsklagenemnda is one year after the date on which the complaint was lodged with the company. Mind that the deadline for payment of the parking ticket is three weeks after the date of a negative decision by the company and is only postponed in case the decision is appealed within three weeks.
- The driver can appeal to court (Tingretten) within four weeks of receiving a negative decision from the Parkeringsklagenemnda. If you do not appeal, the parking ticket must be paid within two weeks.
Why you must always appeal
The system is flawed. Tickets are issued maliciously and while sometimes they are fair, sometimes they are not. When they are not, it is not always easy to have the proof. In my case, I could not have proven that the machine wasn’t working. However, only after I appealed to the Parkeringsklagenemnda, the machine log was submitted and I could see it as part of the case file. Only then I had clear proof that the machine was broken. It was fixed five minutes before my parking ticket was issued and to hide these facts, they submitted the log of three days before instead of the day before as required in case of faulty machines. All clear proof of malicious intent by the company, which they upheld after my complaint and beyond.
The Parkeringsklagenemnda is established as an independent administrative tribunal to solve consumer disputes regarding parking tickets. Their decision is made by a tribunal consisting of three members; one neutral leader, one representing the parking company and one representing the customer/driver. However, by the way they dealt with my case, I suspected partiality and I believe they, are based on the following:
They are financed directly from the sanctions that are issued by the parking companies (§ 58 parkeringsforskriften, § 3 forskrift om brukerfinansiering av Parkeringsklagenemnda).
They are paid 3,5 NOK for every sanction issued. They receive 500 NOK for every appeal. For every withdrawal, they receive 1500 NOK and for every case lost, they receive 3500 NOK. They cannot say to be independent and impartial when there is a financial link between the tribunal and one of the parties to the case. Why would they decide against an unfair ticket if that means they revoke the basis for the next 100+ tickets? At least by appealing the ticket, you redistribute the income generated by the unfair ticket as 500 NOK from that ticket must go from the parking company to Parkeringsklagenemnda.
Parkeringsklagenemnda comes across as a joke. They did not consider all the proof and arguments submitted. A truly impartial decision would involve all the arguments and counterarguments weighed against each other, including the proof submitted by both parties, and ruling against or in favour. Most of my arguments submitted were left out and from the arguments used, the context was disregarded and words were cherry-picked to shift blame and rule in favour of the parking company. Any doubt was decided in favour of the company while the proof is very clear, but these details are left out (the machine was probably working). They are careless in dealing with cases by not looking at the facts and circumstances of the case and violate principles of due process, which in my case led to an unreasonable and impossible outcome. The motivation for their decision is insubstantial and without a legal basis. In my case, they referred to one law, but interpreted the article narrow and wrong. They do not interpret the law, but create their own law. And even when cases are overturned in court by the Conciliation Board (Forliksrådet), Parkeringsklagenemnda continues to apply their own precedent. This also shows their deliberate will to uphold sanctions and not apply the law as is fair and legal. Being cheated by a parking company is one thing, but having a unfair or even malicious decision upheld by an administrative tribunal is another. This “tribunal” should either be fixed or abolished.
When you take it to court, you may have a better chance. It usually doesn’t get that far because the time and money to get there doesn’t seem worth it, and I may agree. But if you give up, this unjust system will never change. In my case, court did not help. No, court was just an extension of the Parkeringsklagenemnda. I thought judges look better and further, but I saw no proof of that – on the contrary, my main argument was deemed irrelevant without further motivation and a lot of details that, taken as a whole, made the sanction unfair, were left out. But since this area is so unexplored, perhaps another judge would have ruled differently. Cases have been won in the past, though the ones I know were regulated by city councils and not parking companies. It should not matter. The different (and free) appeals procedure when it regards city council sanctions vs. parking company sanctions is another violation of fair trial rights. They both concern the same domain.
If anyone is rich enough to make this an art. 6 ECHR case and has exhausted all domestic remedies, take it before the European Court of Human Rights. If anyone wants to pursue this, I’ll help where I can. This is not even my own legal system to change (I’m Dutch), but we all have an obligation to fight injustice where and when possible.