Can a Bailiff clamp my car?

The simple answer to the question “can a bailiff clamp my car?’, is yes he can.  Furthermore, a vehicle is the most popular item for a bailiff to seize. It is usually the most expensive items that you own, and as its usually parked outside, it’s the easiest to take control of.  Seizing a vehicle also avoids the need for an enforcement agent to attempt to gain entry into your property.

Location where a vehicle may be clamped

A vehicle may only be clamped (immobilised)  at your home, your place of business or on a highway. In light of a recent court judgement, this page will be updated in the next few days with a definition of a ‘highway’.

Documentation

If an immobilisation device is applied to your vehicle, the enforcement agent must provide you with a Notice of Immobilisation. The relevant statutory notices are on this page.

Can a bailiff clamp a car that is on finance or hire purchase?

Yes he can. In fact, if the vehicle is located on a highway he has no choice but to do so. The relevant legislation is Regulation 18.2 of the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013. This states that if the vehicle is located on a highway, it must be immobilised (with an emphasis on the word ‘must’).

How long can the vehicle be clamped for?

If a bailiff immobilises your vehicle, legislation provides that it cannot removed to the vehicle pound  unless a period of not less than 2 hours have elapsed. Unfortunately, the legislation does not provide a maximum period that a vehicle can be immobilised for. If the vehicle is subject to finance, it is fairly common for it to be immobilised for a period of up to 2-3 days. This appears to be an acceptable practice as it allows time for the enforcement company to make enquiries with the finance company. It also gives the motorist time to raise the funds to pay the debt without the added burden of a removal fee of £110 and storage charges being applied.

Can a bailiff clamp my wife (or partners) car for my debt?

Goods  in which a ‘co owner’ has ‘an interest’ may be seized by a bailiff.  This includes jointly owned goods. The enforcement agent cannot just assume that a vehicle on your driveway is ‘jointly owned’. He would be expected to make ‘reasonable’ enquiries’. The relevant legislation is Regulation 3(1) of Schedule 12 of the Tribunal Courts and Enforcement Act 2007.

Does Section 54 of the Protection of Freedoms Act apply?

No it doesn’t.  Section 54 of  the above Act of Parliament is only in relation to unauthorised parking on private land (such as supermarket car parks, large shopping centre etc). It has no relevance whatsoever to a bailiff enforcing a warrant of execution/warrant of control. Further details can be read on this page.

The bailiff should not have clamped my car…what can I do?

There is specific legislation in place to protect motorists if they consider that goods (including a motor vehicle) should not have been seized. This can apply if the motorist considers that their vehicle should be considered ‘exempt’. This could apply if he considers that the vehicle is for ‘business use’ or where it’s value is below £1,350.  Please consider contacting us for further details.

Can I issue a claim in the County Court instead?

No. You would be at serious risk of a cost order given that the regulations outline the steps that should first be taken if there is a dispute about goods that have been taken by a bailiff. The first step, is that any dispute must be made in writing to the enforcement company and copied to the local authority or creditor. There is a very strict period of time for this procedure. The local authority/court/creditor must first have the opportunity to consider the dispute.

Cut I cut off the wheel clamp?

No you cannot!! It is a criminal offence to obstruct a bailiff enforcing a warrant. The relevant legislation is outlined under  Section 68.1 of Schedule 12 of the Tribunals Courts & Enforcement Act. We have provided a separate page on this subject here.

Commentary from Bailiff Advice Online

If you have any queries about a vehicle that may have been ‘clamped’  or about a vehicle that has been taken by a bailiff,  you can email a question to us using our popular online Enquiry Form.  Alternatively, you can contact us by phone. Details are on our Contact page.