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Equita Clamping and Excessive Fees

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Hi everyone!


I was visited earlier this year by a bailiff from Equita, who proceeded to clamp my car for an outstanding parking ticket; at the time I was told I had to pay over £500 to clear the debt.


I challenged the ticket with the council and asked Equita for a breakdown of the charges, I was told by Equita that the actual amount owed was around £222 and that they had just received a warrant for another outstanding ticket and the amount owed on that was around £168.


I was told that as I had disputed the £222 ticket, it was put on hold until 11th August 2010 and I had to wait until thereafter to make a payment.


I told the person at Equita, I was unable to pay the full £168 for the other ticket and so made a part payment of £100 and a £1 debit card charge on 9th July 2010 and said I would pay the remaining £68 at a later date and was told this was ok.


Today 12th August 2010 a bailiff using an ANPR vehicle blocked my car outside my workplace and one of my colleagues informed me, I went outside and spoke with the bailiff who was still sitting in his van and on the phone and was told that I now owe £517.14 and £484.12 and that he would proceed to clamp my car if I did not pay at least the £484.12 fine.


I told him I had already paid £100 towards one of the tickets and only £68 was outstanding, which he was totally unaware of, he checked with his office and told me I still had to pay the full amount.


I told him I had an agreement with his office, but he said the van overrides any agreements made with the office, I called up Equita and spoke to a supervisor who told me my account was taken off hold on 11th August 2010 and as I hadnt made a payment (I didnt have the funds) it was overdue and I had to pay the bailiff charges, he told me if I want a breakdown of the extra charges I will have to send a written request.


I told the bailiff that I did not have that type of money available so he suggested I ask around to borrow the money, I made some calls and was unable to obtain the sufficient funds, so he said he would clamp my car and come back at a later time and remove it if I did not pay the fines.


I advised him the car was on finance and he said he could still remove it, so I got the finance company to contact him and advise him that he could not remove the vehicle.


So the vehicle has been left outside my workplace in a car park on an industrial estate in the middle of nowhere which has no cctv or security at night and could be prone to crime.


I believe his charges are excessive, especially as the vehicle had not been clamped prior to him demanding a combined fee of £1,001.26, of which he could not give me a breakdown of costs.


Please help, what should I do?

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I'm not to good with fees for parking tickets fees but what i can tell you is if a bailiff is collecting more than one parking ticket at the same time he cant charge 2 sets of fees also they cant charge a clamping fee as it not in the regulations

this was confirmed In the Central London County Court - Case No 8CL51015 - Anthony Culligan (Claimant) v 1. Jason Simkin & 2. Marstons (Defendants). Before District Judge Advent 9th & 24th September 2008


Mr Culligan challenged the bailiffs fees & charges imposed by Mr Simkin and Marstons when levying distress and seeking to remove Mr Culigans car for non-payment of a Penalty Charge Notice issued by the London Borough of Camden.


The Judgment goes a long way to clarify exactly what a Bailiff can charge for levying distress. Bailiffs have always sought to charge for fixing an immobilisation device by clamping a vehicle, and an attendance to remove. These charges in Anthony Culligan's case were £200 (£100 for the clamp and £100 for attendance to remove). The Bailiffs have argued that the Fee Regulations permit them to make a charge for levying distress (that is 28% on the first £200 demanded, and for removing goods, or attending to remove goods where no goods are removed, reasonable costs and charges). Bailiffs have claimed that the costs of putting on a clamp, etc. are costs to be included in attending to remove where no goods are removed, if payment is made before the vehicle concerned is removed.





DJ Avent, after considering Case Law and Statute, has found that the purpose of putting on a clamp is to "impound" the vehicle and is not part of the costs of removal. This is because:-


1. The Bailiff's obligation is to secure the vehicle, and the simplest and easiest way to do this is to "immobilise" it so it cannot be driven away. This is effectively the equal of impounding the goods.


2. The Fee Regulations provide for a distinction between the levying of distress and removal of goods. There is a gap between the two stages. The purpose of this "gap" is to allow the debtor to make payment of what is due after the first stage.


DJ Avent says at paragraph 50 of his Judgment:-


"Accordingly, in my judgment the bailiff should not and, as a matter of law cannot take any steps to remove goods until he has given the debtor a reasonable opportunity to pay what is due at the time of seizure. This being so I cannot see that Form 7 can or should include any costs of removal. Mr. Simkin included on the Form 7 he produced for Mr. Culligan the sum of £100 in respect of the immobilisation device. If, as the Defendants now argue, that was part of the removal expenses, it should never have been included in Form 7".


The District Judge went on to find that the application of the clamp falls within the act of levying distress and does not form part of the removal process, whatever the Bailiff's Contract with Camden says.


The Bailiff also charged Anthony Culligan £100 for the " reasonable costs " of removing the vehicle (although the vehicle was never actually removed) in that a tow truck was called and actually arrived at Anthony Culligan's home. Because the Bailiff produced no evidence as to how the charge had been arrived at he was unable to show that it was reasonable.


The District Judge in his conclusion says:


"I am also conscious that my findings in this case ... may have wider consequences and may cause problems for bailiffs because they will not be able to charge for immobilising a vehicle as a separate charge but must include it within the cost of levying distress. To do otherwise would, in my judgment, be unlawful... I would also add that if the Defendant or either of them in the light of this judgment now continued to apply such charges in the manner in which they have done up to now and, specifically, charge fees of £100 for applying an immobilisation device then that would amount to conduct which may well then found a legitimate complaint because in my judgment it would be unlawful....".


What this means in effect is that Bailiffs who continue to make unlawful charges may be guilty of misconduct and have their Certificates removed.


You should know however that Marstons obtained permission to appeal from the District Judge. His reasons for granting the permission were :


"The bailiff was following the practice in force for 15 years. No one has challenged the right to charge for wheelclamping before.

My decision that they cannot do so (at least to the extent that they have charged until now) not only affects the London Borough of Camden but also every Borough with de-criminalised parking.


Accordingly, it has significant local and possible National implications and that is a compelling reason why an appeal should be heard"


Finally, Camden now as a matter of urgency, need to revise their Contract with Bailiffs such as Marston, to take account of the District Judge's Judgment generally, and in particular to remove the authority to charge a fee for an immobilisation device over and above that provided for in the Statutory Fee Regulations.

I will have a look round and see if i can find anything else to help you

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Thanks, I have written for a breakdown of fees, but as I had already paid £100 towards one of the tickets and only had £68 remaining to pay, which he was unaware of when he said I had to pay £484 and disregarded that I had paid £100 already, proves that the charges are excessive.


Unfortunately, my car must remain clamped in a dodgy area for x amount of days until this is resolved

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no your car should not remain clamped


your car is on finance therefore NO enforcement action can be taken against it


the bailiff can only clamp your car if it is subject to a notice of seizure of goods and inventory levying the car

bailiffs can only levy goods they can remove and sell to pay the debt the bailiff cant remove and sell this car as it does not belong to you it belongs to the finance company

I suggest you send a copy of the finance agreement to the council and Eqita (recorded delivery ) and inform them that if the clamp is not removed asap any damage to the car through the result of this unlawful clamping will result in cost being clamped against the council and Equita and a form 4 compliant against the bailiff

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The finance company spoke with him and called me back and said he hasn't seized or levied the car, just immobilised it so i cant use it and they are OK with him doing so.


this has nothing to do with the finance company this is to do with the legality's of distress and to clamp the car he MUST seize it first


as i said the bailiff has no legal right to clamp the car

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The finance company spoke with him and called me back and said he hasnt seized or levied the car, just immobilised it so i cant use it and they are ok with him doing so.


The bailiff knows that the car is subject to finance and therefore he is using your car as a form of "hostage". He CANNOT do this. He is depriving YOU of the use of your car and a FORMAL COMPLAINT must be made straight away the the Head of Parking at the relevant local authority.


You might want to remind the council that "a bailiff MUST NOT seize goods that he has NO INTENTION of selling....and that; if he CANT sell the goods...then he MUST NOT seize them as otherwise; the council could be accused of allowing the bailiff to use your car as blackmail.


You should also keep a note of the exact costs that you have had to incur since the vehicle was taken to include taxis etc and threaten the local authority that you will be considering taking out a summons against them to recover these charges etc.

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Hiya Tom Tubby, I have sent complaint letters to the council and Equita about their seizing a vehicle on finance.


I have also made a formal complaint to the court that issued the bailiffs certificate, as I cant see how he can charge me £484 on a ticket, that I had paid £100 towards and only had £68 of the debt remaining, which he was totally unware about, it seems like he just made up the figures as he was unable to give me a fee breakdown.


My car still remains clamped, I have no idea how long it is going to be clamped and it is away from my home, so is a big incovenience and I cant really check the car over the weekend, as it will be left on a deserted industrial estate, with poor lighting and no CCTV.


As I am worried about leaving my car in the car park for the next few days, is it legal for me to get a locksmith to remove the clamp without damaging it?


As I have found a locksmith that will charge £60 to release the clamp, which is better than leaving the car to get damaged or broken into over the weekend.


Thanks again

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You will be able to claim back teh £60 anyway so no reala issue there, but you will have your car and the clamp will be undamaged. Leave the clamp on site and don't take it with you as it could be regarded as stealing if found ijn your possesion. Either that or drop it off at the nearest police station in the lost & found.

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Thanks Surfero1, only thing I am worried about is if I pay £60 to the locksmith to remove the clamp, will Equita just reclamp the car again?


I use it to get to work, so if I bring it back on Monday to the same park, will the bailiff see it (if they return for their clamp) and just clamp it again?


If I hide it away from my home and a street somewhere, will an ANPR equipped Equita van just clamp it again?


Will look into lodging a blackmail complaint with the police as well

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As TomTubby the resident expert said, they should not be depriving you of the car. I doubt if they can enter a works premises without permission to clamp a car as ths may raise a Health & Safetty issue for your company.

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True, but as they clamped it the 1st time, is there anything to stop them clamping it again?


When I call their office, they wont even speak to me, they said I have to deal with the bailiff, I feel as if I am going round in circles.


Its not on my workplace property, it is in a free public car park which is part of the industrial estate.

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Well the car is still clamped, when I call Equita they refuse to talk to me and said I need to speak to the bailiff, who then tells me he isn't removing the clamp until I pay their fees.


I am considering paying a locksmith to remove the clamp, but I am worried they will just reclamp it.


What should I do next?

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Hi there

IMO rather than pay a locksmith 60 GBP to remove the clamp just use an Angle Grinder and do it yourself -- after all if the car was immobilised illegally in the first place what charges can be brought against you for retrieving your own property.


Once you've FREED your car remove it to a SAFE place away from the Bailiff's.


Also it would be up to the bailiff to prove that YOU actually removed the clamp (which was illegally applied in the first place).


In Scotland I think the matter is clearer --Illegal clamping can now be treated as EXTORTION with SEVERE penalties applied --it's about time us Sassenachs copied their Law on this one.


Note here I'm NOT advocating Violence or any ILLEGAL ACT. The LAW of common property is quite clear -- You DO have a right to make reasonable attempts to reclaim your own property (or property deemed to be in your care such as a Car on HP etc when its been illegally seized) and you certainly have redress against the perpetrators of the act.


Just because a car is clamped doesn't mean that you can't UNCLAMP it.





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