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Wheel clamping – the new picture

21 November 2012

From October, it became a criminal offence to wheel-clamp on private land. The few exceptions relate to government agencies and, for example, some car parks that may be used by the public at railway stations, airports or local authority housing.

Now, the alternative for private landowners is to impose parking charge notices (tickets) against illegally-parked cars and to pursue vehicle-keepers who fail to pay.

Parking enforcement on private land remains unregulated and relies on the laws of contract and trespass. Put simply, as long as there is adequate signage, you are deemed to have accepted the parking terms and sanctions. Parking charge notices can be left on the illegally-parked vehicle or posted to the vehicle-keeper (if, for example, the non-compliance is detected by camera).

Other changes to vehicle laws include extending police powers to remove vehicles parked on private land. This ensures landowners have the means to keep their land clear from obstructive or dangerously-parked cars.

In the past there have been many instances of cowboy clampers preying on motorists by charging excessive release fees. If rogue firms now switch to handing out excessive parking notices, an independent appeals service (POPLA) will allow drivers to challenge the penalties.

Only parking enforcement companies who are members of the British Parking Association are allowed to obtain vehicle keepers’ details from the DVLA. However non-private landowners may continue to issue tickets and enforce them through the civil courts.

As always, if you need commercial and pragmatic legal advice, we’re here to help so please get in touch.

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Alasdair Garbutt LLB (Hons)
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