Monday, 15 February 2010

Fighting clamping companies

OK, time for some research. My son, again!!!

Paying a clamping company under duress and recovering it later - what are the chances?

There was a sign, small, high up and not lit, and he arrived at night.

Holiday Inn car park was full so they directed him round the corner - some residential garages / area.

He has paid under duress, so I think we'll take them to court to try and recover it.

Lots of pictures.

Thanks for comments.

Oh, and it was £150 which is a huge ripoff.

Oddly it was "release fee £150 per day". Surely you only want to be released "today" even if you parked for a week? How the hell can a release fee be daily?

Mind you, having paid the fee, if you re-park later that day you can claim you have paid the day's release fee already perhaps.


  1. You will need to prove that he didn't see the sign, Its based on contract law and he could only form a contract with the clampers if he actually saw the sign and agreed to it.

    The sign has to state the release fee and contact details for the company, The receipt has to have about 5 things on it. The SIA number of the clamper, The location, The time, Correct registration number of the car. But to be honest most of the clamping companies are very dodgy and unless you serve them yourself you probably wont even get a recorded letter to them. It will be a PO box or an `OLD` address.


  2. Quick wins are he must have written his Vehicle Immobilisation SIA License number on the receipt; if this is not on the receipt the fine is unlawful. Also, the sign must display the charges for release, another common quick win.

    Should the case goto court, timestamped photos of the unlit sign will ensure that the fine doesn't stick. People commonly claim back on the spot fines via the court systems from when they pay on the spot fines to the police, so this should be a walk in the park (I would hope)

  3. Adrian,

    Look at the British Parking Association and their guidelines.

    FWIW, we took PCM of Slough to court last year and won, just on the basis of a credible excuse that my wife simply hadn't seen the sign. See our Google Group.

    Unfortunately the magistrate didn't go so far as to rule that the signs were actually inadequate.

    In your case I'd try the same approach via small claims. Going for "under duress" probably won't get you far.


  4. OK, main issue here is that the sign is simply not visible at night. Even during the day the sign is white on white and obscured by a drain pipe.

  5. Ah, now, who to sue. I have the security company details, regd office, directors home addresses, etc.

    However, the sign says "agents to the owners". Now, if they are agents then any contract with with the owner and not the agent. So it is the owner that needs the letter and ultimate legal action not the agent.

    So, the owner of garage 6 (where the sign is) or the owner of garage 3 (when James parked) I wonder. Or both.

  6. Presumably, though, your claim is that there was no contract. As a result, the clamping company had no authority to interfere with your son's car. It doesn't matter who the contract would have been with, because there wasn't one if your son didn't see the sign.

    (BTW, I don't know if you know, but your blog doesn't play nicely with Thunderbird. For some reason, whenever an article is displayed, an empty browser window opens.)

  7. Indeed, hence not trying to identify owners yet.
    And the blog is on google, so odd if it gets upset!

  8. As he was directed there by staff from the hotel is it possible that there could be a consipracy here i.e. the member of staff in question gets a kick-back from the clampers?

    Surely if they knew there were spaces there it's also reasonable to assume they would have known that there is a clamping sign?

  9. 1. Did he pay by credit card? If so order a charge-back since payment was made under duress.

    2. If he can get him to go back and video / photograph under the same conditions ie poor lighting etc.

    3. If you sue you jointly sue the land-owner and clampers. The whole act of clamping on private land is based upon the act of trespass and the damage caused by it.

    The current case law referred to in clamping cases are:

    Arthur v. Anker & Vine v. Waltham Forest

    Clamping is unlawful in Scotland and about to be banned in the states of Jersey so there is a lot of activity in this area.
    The RAC Foundation recently published this report:

    Basically don't take it laying down.

    Ed (emem on A&A)

  10. RevK


    Good luck

  11. I’m slightly biased as we are just about to introduce parking enforcement in our car park; however we are making sure there are enough signs so people can clearly see them (we are using it as a deterrent, as opposed to profiting from it, we don’t receive any money from the fines).

    We did try the relaxed approach, however it seems word gets around and every Tom, Dick and Harry thinks it is ok to park on our property. I wouldn’t mind so much, but our staff have to park somewhere!

    Saying that however, that is ridiculous, the writing on the sign looks tiny!

  12. Kevin, don't get me wrong, I do see the other side.

    There are laws covering trespass. The issue is trying to use implied contracts that make no sense with excessive penalties and contract law to undermine the existing remedies and law for trespass.

    After all, how is this different than "you walk on my drive you have to pay me £1,000,000" sign?

    Well, actually, the difference is that a clamper extorts the unreasonable charge by imprisoning your car!

    If the clamper had to take people to court for the £150, and show there was a contract and so on, they would not work.

    I think we need "You touch this car and you are agreeing to give me £1,000" notices on the car. They are just as valid as far as I can see. Then one could take court action for the return of the release fee and the £1,000 and any argument the court agrees with on "you saw the sign and you still did the thing" apply to both. If you lose the case for the release fee because the sign and your actions make a contract, you win for the £1,000...

  13. It's instances like this that I can see the logic that people argue of driving 50 quid bangers. Get clamped? Get a refund on the remaining VED (it's got to be off the public road otherwise a private company can't clamp you, thus it doesn't need tax). Buy a new one, it'll be cheaper. For bonus points, syphon off any fuel left. Optionally take the interior and flog it on eBay.

  14. Better still, ensure it is registered in the name and address of the director of the clamping company.