Vehicle clamping and your rights

Vehicle clamping and your rights

It happens to many people at some point. The return to a car park in a strange town to discover a yellow clamp on the wheel of a car and a man in a luminous vest pointing at a sign before emptying your wallet.

Surprisingly the law in these circumstances is not terribly well known or clear cut.

Notwithstanding that your vehicle may be trespassing, placing a wheel clamp on your car is a trespass to goods.

To avoid issues of trespass and a claim for damages, the clamper must show consent to the clamping.  In effect this involves that demonstrating that you had been made aware that a wheel clamping scheme was in operation with the existence of prominent notices which a court will consider you likely to have seen and to have understood their significance.

Therefore if clamped look for the notice and if it is not there then you cannot be deemed to have consented to the trespass to your car.  If it is there but not prominent, photograph it and write to the clamper threatening a small claims trespass action.  If exorbitant charges are levied for the release of the vehicle the Court may be willing to consider exemplary damages for trespass over and above a refund.

Another issue to consider is that your clamper should have an SIA (Security Industry Authority) licence.  Clampers must observe certain requirements set out by the SIA including;

1. Not clamping or towing a vehicle that:

  • Has a valid disabled badge is displayed on the vehicle
  • Is a marked emergency service vehicle which is in use.

2.  Not collecting a release fee without providing a receipt, with the following information:

  • the location where the vehicle was clamped or towed
  • their name and signature
  • their SIA licence number
  • the date.

Licence numbers can be checked on the SIA website and if there are discrepancies raise this in correspondence as there can be criminal consequences for failing to comply with the SIA requirements.

An interesting point that the law has not yet determined is what happens when a motor vehicle displays a sign expressly withholding consent to the clamping of that vehicle.

Published on web site – May 2008


The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances. (50587)