Wednesday, 6 February 2013

How To Remove A Clamp: What Should You Do If Clamped

We all know the majority of motorists have had some sort of run in with clampers over the years. While we can see the reasoning behind government backed clamping on public ground there is little reasoning going on with private clamping companies. They are known to be operating on shaky ground here in Ireland and clamping on private ground has been outlawed in the United Kingdom as of last year. You can read about these changes here on the Telegraph and the BBC.

It is likely that we will see this implemented in Ireland in the coming year. Over the past few years we have seen the removal fee that is implemented by these private clamping companies rise from €80 to €120 in most cases, this in a time when people have less and less disposable income.

We are not against clamping on private ground but it certainly needs more regulation as there is little comeback if you feel you have been clamped unfairly with private companies. Complaints fall on deaf ears and there is a lack of protocol when it comes to lodging an appeal in most cases.

Another particular issue is where these private companies target those that are left with no option but to park outside a designated parking space. We see this happen all the time in universities, hospitals and apartment blocks. There are simply not enough parking spots provided and people are left with little option but to park illegally in the clamper's eyes. This is like shooting fish in a barrel and is a massive money making exercise in our opinion.

The AA undertook a survey of Irish motorists and they had this to say on the issue of private clamping:
The AA also finds it unacceptable that private clampers and the landowners who are their clients present themselves as being of equal legitimacy with clamping that is carried out under the direction of the local authority. They are not.
Signs frequently mention a parking ‘fine’ for example. A fine is an amount of money paid as a penalty for a criminal or civil infraction and may only be imposed in accordance with the law. A car owner who parks on private land where there is an implied right of access, such as a car park, cannot be held to be in breach of the law. The motorist might be held to be at fault in a civil matter with respect to the limitations that the land-owner has declared for allowing access to his property; then again he might not and it could ultimately require a civil action to rule on the matter.
Whatever about the semantics of how private parking restrictions are displayed it remains the case that private parking penalties are imposed arbitrarily and without legal basis. The costs for de-clamping are also arbitrary.
You can read the brilliant AA piece in full here

The law regarding clamping on private property in Ireland is clear. You can read it in detail here.
RTA 1961
Unauthorised interference with mechanism of vehicle.
113.—(1) A person shall not, without lawful authority or reasonable cause, interfere or attempt to interfere with the mechanism of a mechanically propelled vehicle while it is stationary in a public place, or get on or into or attempt to get on or into the vehicle while it is so stationary.
(2) A person who contravenes subsection (1) of this section shall be guilty of an offence.
(3) Where a member of the Garda Síochána has reasonable grounds for believing that a person is committing an offence under this section, he may arrest the person without warrant.
(4) This section shall not apply to a person taking, in relation to a mechanically propelled vehicle which is obstructing his lawful ingress or egress to or from any place, such steps as are reasonably necessary to move the vehicle by human propulsion for a distance sufficient to terminate the obstruction.
(5) Where a person is charged with an offence under this section, it shall be a good defence to the charge for him to show that, when he did the act alleged to constitute the offence, he believed, and had reasonable grounds for believing, that he had lawful authority for doing that act.
Regarding removing a clamp on private property people take several approaches. However, you must be careful not to damage the clamp itself. Petrolheads have had success with jacking the car up and removing the relevant parts that are immobilised before slipping off the chain.This involves taking the wheel off, removing the bolt holding the wishbone to hub and from there the ball joint pops out. This allows you to slide the chain off and then repeat in reverse to get back rolling. 


The most common approach that people take is to snip a link in the chain and remove the chain in that fashion, before replacing the link with a brand new one. Ensure that you return the clamp to the relevant company or contact them letting them know where to collect it.

We feel that clamping is most likely a necessary evil but it needs regulation similar to those county council backed companies that operate on public ground. There should be a cooling off period of at least 15 minutes before a warning sticker is applied, it is unfair to punish someone for being minutes late back to their car after having paid for parking in the first place.

Let us know what you think on the whole issue!

Words by Max Bradley, An Expert in Everything! 

5 comments:

  1. on a completely unrelated topic - you should start selling heavy duty bolt cutters, cordless angle grinders, etc etc etc :p

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  2. I seem to remember than in the early nineties a solicitor in Scotland successfully sued a private clamper for "Theft and Extortion". I'm pretty sure it made the news at the time.

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  3. My daughter's car was clamped in her own designated parking space that came with her apartment. The clamping company refused to remove it without payment, they said she did not have her parking permit displayed properly (she did). They knew her car as it is a small complex of only 30 apartments and she had been living there 18 months.
    She rang me and I drove 60 miles into Galway and cut the clamp off with an angle grinder. I kept the clamp and lock because if there is no clamp they can't prove you damaged it and if they leave them laying around unprotected that's their look-out. We never heard a word about it. Cost of clamp and lock on Ebay £130.
    If they leave something attached to my car, it's mine! My advice just cut it off and remove all trace or, if you must pay , super glue the lock so that they have to cut it off, This is what the French public did and it soon made it uneconomical to continue clamping.

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    1. I will pay you to come and remove the clamp 9n my car..south dublin city....

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  4. The other night there was a huge fire inside the underground carpark of the apartment block my boyfriend and I live in. We have our own parking spaces within that carpark, but due to the fire being looked at as criminal, the area was blocked off by a garda presence and we were told to park some where else (this was at 3:30am after work). My boyfriend's car was full of band gear and didn't want to leave it on the street so, beside the apartment/carpark, there is an abandoned area that does not give access to any route or in use of any person. The signs for the clamping company were on other fences and gates that were in use, but the area we parked in had none. We parked it there, tucked in so it was in no one's way and left it. Next morning we were told by management we could bring the car into the carpark and when we went out to do so, found it had been clamped. Left was a number to contacted, and thinking we had a liable reason to park there, we requested if there was any leeway as we had no choice in the matter. We got a text back saying "sorry no"..Not too impressed with this, we went to the garda and explained the case. He said we had to take it up with the clamping company, but we would probable get no where with them. Out of curiosity I asked "if he can remove it would it be fair game?". The garda smiled and agreed it would but only if we DO NOT DAMAGE the clamp as it would be looked at as criminal damage and could get fined a further amount. With this in mind, we returned home, looked up clamp removable made easy on youtube and once we knew the ins and outs we removed the clamp from the car by removing the wheel and disconnecting the brake fluid line, and the chain slipped off without any damaged caused to both clamp and car. During this time (1hr 30mins)the clamper man came and laughed at us saying "we are doing it wrong", took a picture of the car with no wheel and left. We still have the clamp and are contemplating on giving it the garda station declaring it as lost property.
    We are getting mix suggestions, people who also were in the same situation...Get rid of it, or call the company and tell them its in the garda station waiting for them?
    Clamping on private property is a joke, especially if the area has no use to any one and is not causing an obstruction by parking there. We were in our right to remove the clamp as we had a damn good excuse.
    Any suggestions what to do with it?

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