Many a person has returned to their car to find that it has been clamped and having to pay an exorbitant fine. The clamping of cars has increased in recent years as a means of private land owners exercising their property rights.
Currently under Road Traffic Law a Garda, Traffic Warden or other authorised person is entitled to clamp or immobilize a vehicle parked in contravention of parking restrictions. These regulations also prescribe the appropriate fee to be paid for the release of the vehicle.
Clamping on private land however does not have a clear lawful basis in Ireland. A vehicle parked without the permission of the landowner is clearly trespassing but does that give the landowner the right to fix an immobilization device.
Our neighbours in England and Wales permit clamping by a landowner or his agent on private land, provided that a reasonable fee is charged for the release and that reasonably sufficient notice is given to any motorist. What qualifies as adequate notice has been a matter of some debate in England and Wales but clear, prominent signage must be in place setting out details of the parking restriction and the fine payable in the event that these notices are ignored.
Other problems arise for private car parks when they use a ticketing system. Once a ticket is purchased a contract is created between the motorist and the car park owner. Where a motorist purchases a ticket and parks but returns after the time indicated on the ticket the motorist is not a trespasser and has not consented to his vehicle being clamped. The motorist has however entered into a consumer contract to park which has expired. The car park owner in such a scenario is entitled to claim for the additional cost of parking rather than a deterrent type fee usually charged to declamp a car. In fact a large deterrent fee is contrary to European Law and is unenforceable.
It appears therefore that there are legal difficulties in engaging in the practice of private clamping under Irish Law and if you require any further advice in relation to this or any other matter please do not hesitate to contact us on the numbers given below.
Tel: 065 686 5480 / 065 686 5481