Can a Bailiff clamp my car?

A motor vehicle is the most popular item for a bailiff to seize. In 2014 significant changes were made to bailiff enforcement with the introduction of the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 and in relation to motor vehicles, Regulation 16 & 17 of the allow an enforcement agent to immobilise a vehicle by fitting a wheel clamp.

Location where a vehicle may be clamped

A vehicle may only be clamped (immobilised)  at the following locations:

The debtor’s home

The debtor’s place of business or:

On a ‘highway’

For the avoidance of doubt, a bailiff/ enforcement agent is not permitted to  take control of a vehicle in either a public or a private car park (which includes supermarket car parks,  large shopping outlets, hospitals, motorway service areas  etc), unadopted roads or other land that is owned by private individuals (such as a neighbour’s  or relatives driveway).

Documentation

If a bailiff has clamped a vehicle legislation provides that he must provide a Notice of Immobilisation. Further details of the notices required can be read here.

How long can the vehicle be clamped for?

If your vehicle has been clamped on a ‘highway’, it cannot be removed to the bailiff companies vehicle pound unless a period of  2 hours have elapsed.

If however your vehicle has been clamped on your driveway, there is no specific time period in which it can remain clamped. For example; we receive many enquiries from the public complaining that their car has remained clamped for a number of days. This appears to be an acceptable practice as it provides an additional period of time in which 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?

Under regulation 3(1) of Schedule 12 of the Tribunal Courts & Enforcement Act 2007, it provides that goods  in which a ‘co owner’ has ‘an interest’ may be taken into control 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 need to either ‘know’ that the other person has an interest (in the goods) or that he would know if he made ‘reasonable’ enquiries’.

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. With so much incorrect information being available on the internet about Section 54 of the Protection of Freedoms Act we have provided a separate page on this subject here.

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

Part 6 of the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 outlines the steps that must be undertaken if there is a dispute regarding goods (including a vehicle) that have been seized. This procedure applies to ‘third party goods’ and  to goods which the debtor considers should be ‘exempt’ (for instance for ‘business use’ or even when its value is questioned).

Can I issue a claim in the County Court instead?

No. The regulations outline the steps that should be taken if there is a dispute about goods that have been taken by a bailiff and the first step, is that any dispute must first be made in writing to the local authority (or creditor) and copied to the enforcement  company. 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!! It is a criminal offence to intentionally obstruct a person acting lawfully as an enforcement agent. The relevant legislation can be found 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 Question page. Alternatively, you can contact us by phone. Details are on our Contact page.

A simple overview of the new Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 including details of  bailiff fees, the notices that must be given by the bailiff and items that are ‘exempt’ from being taken into control can be read here.