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Wheel Clamping on Private Land Banned

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

One ray of sunshine has finally burst through the clouds for motorists as wheel clamping on private land is banned. Rising fuel prices, worsening congestion and tax increases are just some of the miseries that motorists have faced while the economy has squeezed their household budgets. The fear of returning from a shopping trip to find you car wheel clamped and patrolled by a surly attendant should now be a thing of the past with the introduction of new laws at the beginning of October.

Private landlords who have used clamping to legitimately prevent nuisance parking may not be so pleased but some provision has been made to compensate them.

The Legislation
The new legislation is the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 which makes it an offence to clamp cars parked on private land. There are a number of parts to the Act dealing with issues including: the regulation of biometric data, the regulation of surveillance, the protection of property from disproportionate enforcement action, counter terrorism powers, safeguarding vulnerable groups, freedom of information, data protection and other miscellaneous issues.

The prevention of wheel clamping on private land falls under Part 3 Chapter 2. Sections 54 to 56 deal with the offence related to clamping and the alternative remedies available in relation to vehicles left on land.

What it Means
Section 54 makes it a criminal offence for a person without authority to: immobilise a vehicle, by the attachment to the vehicle or part of it, an immobilising device; or to move or restrict the movement of a vehicle by any means. This means that wheel clamping or towing a vehicle away has become a criminal offence. If a barrier exists, whether it is lowered or not at the time of parking, any express or implied consent is lawful for restricting the movement of that vehicle with the barrier. The erection of a barrier may therefore be one alternative option for landowners.

Section 55 of the legislation has been worded to enable the introduction of regulations for authorities such as the police to remove obstructively, illegally or dangerously parked cars whether on the road or other land.

Although Section 54 may mean that private landowners who have legitimately used clamping to prevent unauthorised parking have lost a significant means for doing so there is some compensation. Section 56 has introduced provision for landlords to claim unpaid parking charges from the keeper or hirer of a vehicle that is parked without permission where the driver or owner is unknown. Clear warnings will be required in order to enforce these fees.

If you are a motorist or a private landlord with questions about these measures, Rollingsons has experienced lawyers who can assist you. For more information please contact us on 0207 611 4848.