Can a Bailiff clamp my car?

The simple answer to the question “can a bailiff clamp my car’, is yes he can.  And furthermore, a vehicle is the most popular item for a bailiff to seize and the most expensive. It is also the easier item to secure as it is usually parked on the driveway or in close proximity. 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?

A vehicle that is immobilised cannot be removed to the vehicle pound unless a period of not less than 2 hours have elapsed. The relevant legislation is Regulation 18.5 of the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013. 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. This period of time also allows the enforcement agent to make enquiries with the finance company. It also gives you time to raise the funds to pay the debt without the added burden of a removal fee of £110 and storage charges being applied.

Unfortunately, we have received many reports of finance companies instructing the enforcement agent to remove the vehicle to their pound. This is usually because of arrears under the agreement.

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. 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 obstruct a bailiff enforcing a warrant. The relevant legislation is  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.