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Wheel Clamping Facts and Myths FAQs

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 10 May 2010 | comments*Discuss
Wheel Clamping Wheel Clampers Landowners

The use of wheel clamping by private landowners has been the subject of much controversy. Words such as illegal and extortion are often used to describe clamping, and motorist should be aware of their rights if they have been clamped.

Do All Private Landowners Have the Right to Use Wheel-Clamps?

Private landowners must have a licence from the Security Industry Authority (SIA). A SIA licence should be shown to motorists who have been clamped if requested. It is a criminal offence for a private landowner to clamp a vehicle if they are unlicensed. Employees of the landowner who are clamping vehicles must also be licensed. Motorists who have been clamped can check with the SIA website to ensure that they have been clamped by a licensed landowner.

Must Clamping Notices Be Exhibited on the Private Land?

One of the rules of wheel clamping is that there must be adequate notification that clamping is a consequence of parking. Clear warning signs should be placed in the area where the cars will be parked. These notices are actually an agreement between the motorist and the landowner. The motorist is consenting to take the risk of having their vehicle clamped by parking in the area. If warnings notices are not clearly visible then a clamped motorist can sue the clamper for interfering with his or her vehicle.

Can Wheel Clampers Can Charge as Much as They Want?

Wheel clampers cannot simply charge as much as they would like to release a vehicle. Clamping fees are known to vary; estimated fees range from £100 to £600 but the average is around £240. Landowners who do use wheel clamping should not charge more than a reasonable release fee. A reasonable fee should cover expenses and an appropriate element of profit. Motorists should always keep the wheel clamp release receipt. If the charge seems to be unreasonably high then they can sue the wheel clamper.

Can Motorists Who Cut Wheel Clamps Be Prosecuted?

Motorists who decide to remove wheel clamps themselves can end up in court facing a hefty fine. If all of the wheel clamping rules are in place then removing a wheel clamp can be seen as criminal damage. There are of course two sides to every story and motorists may have a right to stop a clamper from interfering with their vehicles. This will depend on the circumstances of the case and whether all of the clamping rules were followed.

Can Everyone Be Clamped When Parking Illegally?

There are certain motorists who are exempt from wheel clamping. Disabled motorists displaying a valid disabled parking badge cannot be clamped. Members of the emergency services who are attending an emergency also cannot be clamped. These are the only two exceptions to the wheel clamping rules.

Can I Be Clamped for Unpaid Motoring Offence Fines?

The police have started to clamp and tow away vehicles if the owner has unpaid motoring offence fines. Vehicles will usually be clamped for 24 hours and if the fines are not paid the vehicle can be towed away. The vehicle will then remain in storage until the fines have been paid or the vehicle is sold. Fine evaders can also have their bank accounts frozen and their wages arrested.

Can Wheel Clampers Use Intimidating Behaviour?

Any wheel clamper who uses threatening or intimidating behaviour should be reported to the police. There have been many ‘cowboy’ wheel clampers who have been fined for this type of behaviour. If the wheel clamper also refuses to show their SIA licence or they do not have one they should be reported to the SIA. Any type of threatening or intimidating behaviour can be a criminal offence and will be investigated by the authorities.

Is it Pointless Going to Court to Fight Wheel Clampers?

Many motorists have gone to court and won cases against wheel clampers. Anyone who feels that they have been illegally clamped or overcharged should consider suing the clampers through the courts. Advice from a law professional should be taken before this course of action begins. Motorists should remember to gather as much evidence as possible including photographs if signs are not displayed prominently.

Wheel clamping is not just a licence to print money for private landowners. There are rules set out that wheel clampers must follow before they can clamp any vehicle. More advice on wheel clamping can be found at the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and the British Parking Association.

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