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Wheelclamping on private property


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In Crawley, there is a leisure park comprising cinema, various restaurants, a bowling centre, etc. They have a gigantic car park, the some sections of which were half empty even at the busiest times. Therefore, some citizens took to using these unpopular areas of this car park for free as an alternative to exorbitant charges (minimum £1.50, even for five minutes) nearer the main shopping drag.

 

This January, they put up little signs here and there in their car parks, which many failed to notice. They now employ 'security' staff to monitor all the cars coming and going and to rush out there with the clamping van, presumably as soon as they see a car's occupants heading in the wrong direction.

 

There are those, not in the know, who go and see a film but discard their tickets before returning to find their car clamped.

 

There is a point to all this, I promise! They charge £125 to remove the clamp (or 155 if they have to tow it away, plus 25 a day storage). It's this: is this not in conflict with the law against penalty or punitive charges being imposed without having been awarded in court, or used to compel compliance?

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I'm not sure that it is a contractual penalty. There is no existing contract with the motorist when he enters the car park. What they are doing here is they are saying that by entering the car park the motorist is entering into a contract with the owners to pay a certain sum or money or is otherwise accepting certain contractual conditions.

 

Of course, in order to get away with this, the conditions have to be available to the motorist before he enters the carpark. If the conditions are merely posted inside then they are probably not binding as they are being made available only after the contract has been entered into in which case the motorist is liable only for the reasonable cost of parking - or if there was a court case in trespass, for reasonable damages in trespass.

 

You need to find out more about the layout of the car park. Is there a clear warning at the entrance as to clamping and the cost of clamping. If not then you can probably do something about it.

 

Is it generally a free car park? How can one use it legitimately?

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It is a free car park and the notices state that it is for the use of patrons only. It is surrounded on three sides by various leisure facilities: a health club, a bar, a bowling centre and arcade, a 25 screen cinema, Italian restaurant, Maccy D's, Pizza Hut, TGI Friday and Brannigan's (club). By 'patrons' we all presume that they mean anyone patronising any of those establishments is free to park there while doing so.

 

It is roughly a quarter of a mile from the main shopping area of Crawley, and so was getting used by a few citizens as free parking for the purposes of going shopping.

 

My point about unwary cinema-goers is that they have been clamped for staying too long after their film finished and/or for losing their validating film ticket. But this is vague as it has not happened to me.

 

There are no signs setting out the terms at either of the entrances to this massive car parking area.

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My thought on this would be that the car park is available for the use of patrons. Therefore the owners have not given their permission for non-patrons to use it - they are therefore trespassing.

 

Presumably therefore, the fee charged would be claimed to be an amalgamation of ground rent, and costs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This sounds far to vague to be enforceable. What happens if someone parks there, goes to the shopping drag and then comes back and makes use of the complex or visa versa. Then again these clamping firms are, to put it kindly, inclined to operate in, how should I put it, the wild west of lawfulness.

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OK, on the basis of what you say, there is not a lot of problem. Who is the wheel clamping company?

Do they give a receipt?

 

I would say that if there is a contract then they can only claim a reasonable price. On the basis of what you say I can't see any basis for them being permitted to clamp. They apparently don't even have any waring signs about clamping. The need to come to me for a bit of consultancy and I'll tell them how to do it properly and make a big profit!

 

If they claim trespass then I can't see that they could charge more than a court would award in damages.

 

I can even see a counterclaim for trespass to your own property - the car.

 

Tell me more about the method of payment, the company etc.

 

if it all pans out, I would suggest a small claim action for recovery of money and a possible counterclaim for inconvenience and trespass. If it worked then a big local press campaign to encourage all the locals to go and claim - with due credit to this site, of course.

 

I think that you need to be very sure about the lack of warnings etc. I would have thought that car park owners were much more savvy these days.

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I'm afraid that it would be very difficult to prove an offence in these circumstances

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There was a thread very similar to this on another forum that I go on, One of the posters was a lawyer and gave some very good advice regarding this, I will have a look for it later on and copy and paste it over for youse to have a look at.

17th May 2006 - Letter from the Hellifex offering full refund of charges to date - £330.57 :D :D :D

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There was a thread very similar to this on another forum that I go on, One of the posters was a lawyer and gave some very good advice regarding this, I will have a look for it later on and copy and paste it over for you to have a look at.

better to link to it if you don't mind. We don't want to have a copyright issue with another forum

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I'm afraid that it would be very difficult to prove an offence in these circumstances

 

Why?

 

1. The signs state that they are for patrons, so anybody patronising these outlets are parked within the correct terms.

 

2. The signs must be clearly visible.

 

3. The T&Cs must be shown on the signs, this doesn't appear to be the case.

 

4. I'm convinced that there is NO WAY they can legally tow away your car. Even county court or council tax bailiffs are restricted in this field; for example they cannot take your vehicle (for a private debt) if it is for business use (and that's just one example). Even a finance company can't take it without a court order as a result of a defaulted HP agreement if you have paid more than 50% of the original loan.

I only mouth my opinion, please look elsewhere for sensible advice! :)

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Go and have a look at s.1 and also s.12 of the Theft Act 1968 and you may understand why

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"where the public have access to a building in order to view the building or part of it, or a collection or part of a collection housed in it, any person who without lawful authority removes from the building or its grounds the whole or part of any article displayed or kept for display to the public in the building or that part of it or in its grounds shall be guilty of an offence. For this purpose 'collection' includes a collection got together for a temporary purpose, but references in this section to a collection do not apply to a collection made or exhibited for the purpose of effecting sales or other commercial dealings."

 

so... its unlawful to take. however its not prosecutable because

"A person does not commit an offence under this section if he believes that he has lawful authority for the removal of the thing in question or that he would have it if the person entitled to give it knew of the removal and the circumstances of it."

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But the Human Rights Act says, "Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions."

 

So if your car is clamped/towed, it is surely a breach of those rights?

I only mouth my opinion, please look elsewhere for sensible advice! :)

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better to link to it if you don't mind. We don't want to have a copyright issue with another forum

 

I can do either but I think you will be unable to view it, Its actually a football forum and it relates to parking in a car park whilst at the game and the legality of them ticketing etc.

17th May 2006 - Letter from the Hellifex offering full refund of charges to date - £330.57 :D :D :D

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Worth mentioning this story again here.

 

In cheltenham, outside Maplins Electrical, is a car park for the use of customers of the four stores making up that retail block; Maplins, Blockbusters and two furniture shops. A private clamping company warns that it will clamp people parking there who do not use these shops, and will charge a release fee of £80.

 

Technical Theft is where someone by some means denies you access to something that is legally and rightfully your posession, and cars fall into this category. Theft of a motor vehicle is an imprisonable offense (i.e. the maximum punishment a court can impose for this offense is a custodial sentence). Any criminal offense that a person can be imprisoned for falls under the juristiction of the Citizens Arrest mandate.

 

Put all this together, and you have the situation that occurred one day. I went to Maplins to buy something, came out and my car had been clamped. Within seconds I was approached by someone from the clamping company and asked for £80.

 

I stated that I had parked here legitimately. He demanded the money. I asked if he legally represented the company. He said he did. I asked if, by clamping my car, he was denying me access to my own legal property. He confirmed this was the case.

 

I responded: "Given that you have just admitted denying me access to my own property, an imprisonable offense, I am now making a citizens arrest for technical theft of a motor vehicle. You do not have to say anything but it may harm your defense if you fail to mention, when questioned, something you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence. I shall now call a police officer to make the arrest official, which he is lawfully required to do, detaining you until such time as it can be decided if charges should be brought - HOWEVER, if you agree to remove the clamp at this time then I can DE-arrest you on the spot and drop the complaint. Which is it going to be?"

 

Moral of the story: If you can prove you were parked legitimately, don't be bullied into handing over cash.

 

He removed the clamp.

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A similar thing happened to me a few years ago. I parked on a small car park allocated to a small group of about 4 or 5 shops which were in a general shopping area/street and came back to find my car clamped. I readily admit I had not been shopping at any of those shops at the time, but I got around it by going back to one of the shops and spending about 80p on a packet of batteries.

 

I then phoned the clamping company and told them they had illegally clamped me. they told me it would be sevceral hours before they could release my car (upon production of a valid reciept from one of the shops, which I now had). I warned them that I was self-employed, my charges were £20 per hour or part thereof and I would bill them for the time my car was illegally impounded. They were there within 15 minutes and couldn't apologise enough!

 

I did send them a bill for £20, didn't get it but (under the circumstances - I shouldn't have been there) didn't pursue it.

 

But it's the principle I objected to; regardless of my rights (or lack of) to park there I didn't believe that they had the legal right to do what they did.

I only mouth my opinion, please look elsewhere for sensible advice! :)

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  • 1 year later...

Any thoughts on this one?

 

My car has been clamped by 'Redroute' whilst parked (I believe lawfully) in a designated parking bay in the grounds of my block of flats. There is no system of permits. I have photos of the clamped car in the bay.

 

Their reason for clamping is they claim there is a maximum stay period of 2 hours. The signs have no mention of this. The signs merely state 'All vehicles must be parked in designated bays'. I have photos off all their signs.

 

The vehicle has been broken down for a few weeks and I have made reasonable efforts to move it, initially by myself (I am 5 months pregnant and needed to rally support for this) and subsequently by my garage, who made 2 attempts to collect the car with their tow truck but on both occasions other cars were in the way of the driveway entrance. On their second attempt they advised me that the car is not economically viable to repair and they recommended a scrap company, which I called and booked in. That very evening it was clamped.I have a letter from my garage confirming all this.

 

I telephoned Redroute the next day to inform them they had clamped my car illegally and to remove the clamp before the car was scraped, and pointed out the inconsistencies in their signs and their reason for clamping. Obviously they demanded the release fee which I did not pay.

 

I cancelled the scrap company and wrote to Redroute asking again that they remove the clamp so the car could be moved. I have now written three times and they have replied twice. They asserted a 2 hour limit and said I had not made reasonable efforts to move the car. They have now said they will remove it and destroy it at my expense. I have made it clear that I do not give them permission to remove the car and am not going to pay them anything. My letters have been polite but firm.

 

I assume their next action will be to remove the car (or not - they know I do not want it) and start sending me demands for payment and threatening me with court proceedings. If it goes to court what are my chances?I think they know they have clamped me illegally and are trying to bully me but would appreciate some reassurance.

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Any thoughts on this one?

 

My car has been clamped by 'Redroute' whilst parked (I believe lawfully) in a designated parking bay in the grounds of my block of flats. There is no system of permits. I have photos of the clamped car in the bay.

 

Their reason for clamping is they claim there is a maximum stay period of 2 hours. The signs have no mention of this. The signs merely state 'All vehicles must be parked in designated bays'. I have photos of all their signs.

 

The vehicle has been broken down for a few weeks and I have made reasonable efforts to move it, initially by myself (I am 5 months pregnant and needed to rally support for this) and subsequently by my garage, who made 2 attempts to collect the car with their tow truck but on both occasions other cars were in the way of the driveway entrance. On their second attempt they advised me that the car is not economically viable to repair and they recommended a scrap company, which I called and booked in. That very evening it was clamped. I have a letter from my garage confirming all this.

 

I telephoned Redroute the next day to inform them they had clamped my car illegally and to remove the clamp before the car was scraped. Obviously they demanded the release fee which I did not pay.

 

I cancelled the scrap company and wrote to Redroute asking again that they remove the clamp so the car could be moved and pointed out the inconsistencies in their signs and their reason for clamping. I have now written three times and they have replied twice. They asserted a 2 hour limit and said I had not made reasonable efforts to move the car. They have now said they will remove it and destroy it at my expense. I have made it clear that I do not give them permission to remove the car and am not going to pay them anything. My letters have been polite but firm.

 

I assume their next action will be to remove the car (or not - they know I do not want it) and start sending me demands for payment and threatening me with court proceedings. If it goes to court what are my chances? I think they know they have clamped me illegally and are trying to bully me but would appreciate some reassurance.

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Any thoughts on this one?

 

My car has been clamped by 'Redroute' whilst parked (I believe lawfully) in a designated parking bay in the grounds of my block of flats. There is no system of permits. I have photos of the clamped car in the bay.

 

Their reason for clamping is they claim there is a maximum stay period of 2 hours. The signs have no mention of this. The signs merely state 'All vehicles must be parked in designated bays'. I have photos of all their signs.

 

The vehicle has been broken down for a few weeks and I have made reasonable efforts to move it, initially by myself (I am 5 months pregnant and needed to rally support for this) and subsequently by my garage, who made 2 attempts to collect the car with their tow truck but on both occasions other cars were in the way of the driveway entrance. On their second attempt they advised me that the car is not economically viable to repair and they recommended a scrap company, which I called and booked in. That very evening it was clamped. I have a letter from my garage confirming all this.

 

I telephoned Redroute the next day to inform them they had clamped my car illegally and to remove the clamp before the car was scraped. Obviously they demanded the release fee which I did not pay.

 

I cancelled the scrap company and wrote to Redroute asking again that they remove the clamp so the car could be moved and pointed out the inconsistencies in their signs and their reason for clamping. I have now written three times and they have replied twice. They asserted a 2 hour limit and said I had not made reasonable efforts to move the car. They have now said they will remove it and destroy it at my expense. I have made it clear that I do not give them permission to remove the car and am not going to pay them anything. My letters have been polite but firm.

 

I assume their next action will be to remove the car (or not - they know I do not want it) and start sending me demands for payment and threatening me with court proceedings. If it goes to court what are my chances? I think they know they have clamped me illegally and are trying to bully me but would appreciate some reassurance.

 

I would say just completely ignore them from now on, let them do what they want (including removing the car since you want it scrapped anyway), wait for the bill to arrive and send it back with a note stating that you are simply not paying and that all further correspondence will either be returned unopened or go straight in the bin without being read.

 

One of two things will happen, they will try to pursue it for a while then right it off or they will take you to court. If they drop it, fine, if they don't then put in a counterclaim for the value of the car plus a little extra for the harrasment etc. If you have to use buses and/or taxis in the meantime keep the tickets and claim for that too.

 

If you are correct about the signage you cannot possibly lose. I personally don't believe that any firm has a legal right to clamp you anyway, I would just remove the clamp but that's me.

I only mouth my opinion, please look elsewhere for sensible advice! :)

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Worth mentioning this story again here.

 

In cheltenham, outside Maplins Electrical, is a car park for the use of customers of the four stores making up that retail block; Maplins, Blockbusters and two furniture shops. A private clamping company warns that it will clamp people parking there who do not use these shops, and will charge a release fee of £80.

 

Technical Theft is where someone by some means denies you access to something that is legally and rightfully your posession, and cars fall into this category. Theft of a motor vehicle is an imprisonable offense (i.e. the maximum punishment a court can impose for this offense is a custodial sentence). Any criminal offense that a person can be imprisoned for falls under the juristiction of the Citizens Arrest mandate.

 

Put all this together, and you have the situation that occurred one day. I went to Maplins to buy something, came out and my car had been clamped. Within seconds I was approached by someone from the clamping company and asked for £80.

 

I stated that I had parked here legitimately. He demanded the money. I asked if he legally represented the company. He said he did. I asked if, by clamping my car, he was denying me access to my own legal property. He confirmed this was the case.

 

I responded: "Given that you have just admitted denying me access to my own property, an imprisonable offense, I am now making a citizens arrest for technical theft of a motor vehicle. You do not have to say anything but it may harm your defense if you fail to mention, when questioned, something you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence. I shall now call a police officer to make the arrest official, which he is lawfully required to do, detaining you until such time as it can be decided if charges should be brought - HOWEVER, if you agree to remove the clamp at this time then I can DE-arrest you on the spot and drop the complaint. Which is it going to be?"

 

Moral of the story: If you can prove you were parked legitimately, don't be bullied into handing over cash.

 

He removed the clamp.

the police would not have arrested him for that.
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Personally I would write to them along the lines of the following:

 

* They hold your car, you no longer want it because it's unviable to repair.

* You contend you owe them nothing, they contend you owe them a release fee

* You therefore agree, without admission or prejudice, that they may keep the car in lieu of any payment they believe they are owed

* You state quite firmly that due to your generous offer which you have made in the spirit of compromise you now consider the matter closed and will not respond to any further correspondence.

 

A court looking at this would HAVE to consider that you made suitable efforts to remove the vehicle, and would have to consider that evidence that the garage-appointed tow truck could not get to the vehicle. If you tell the company that you agree they can take the car, then what they do with it then becomes their issue, especially if you were (keep photocopies) to send the vehicle license document section to them that is filled in when sold to a trader and send the other section off right away to DVLA. To be really sneaky, send them their part a few days AFTER you send DVLA their part.

 

A court would have to consider where ownership lay at the time of removal. If you had already given the car to them, and sent the registration documents to DVLA as proof, then they cannot hold you liable for the removal costs for the car as it belongs to them, not you.

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the police would not have arrested him for that.

 

Quite honestly I doubt they would too, although it would depend on how both parties dealt with the police. They COULD, if they wanted to, but knowing the paperwork that would generate I doubt they would want to unless he became abusive to them, in which case they could quite easily use that as a harsher reason than public order. Doubt the CPS would touch it with the preverbial barge pole though.

 

The MOST likely outcome would be they would tell him to remove the clamp or check more effectively next time, and that would mean bad mojo between the old bill and the clamping firm, which he could do without - which is why I believe he complied, albeit reluctantly.

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I can confirm however in 1998 two attendants were arrested by Strathclyde Police for clamping a car on private property. Under Scottish Law the issue of depriving the owner of the use of his vehicle far outweighed the 'damage' the land owner suffered by the car being there. Due to the penalty being disproportionate to the 'crime', this effectively killed the use of all clamps in Scotland whether public or private.

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