Drivers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland could soon challenge rogue wheel clamping firms by taking their grievances to independent tribunals. Under Government plans, motorist appeals about instances of unfair practice would be heard by powerful and independent adjudicators who could require clamping companies pay back excessive fees to motorists and award compensation. Firms will also face a cap on fines as the Government moves to drive down abuses within the clamping industry.
The policy has been tabled as an amendment to the new Crime and Security Bill and builds on existing Government plans for a compulsory licensing scheme for clamping firms. The scheme will impose a strict code of conduct on wheel clamping companies, including standards for:
- clear instructions for signage/warnings (including size and visibility) that a car may be clamped;
- maximum wheel clamp release fees and payment methods;
- time limits on towing cars unreasonably quickly after being clamped;
- providing evidence that a parking infringement has taken place; &
- security and location of the pound where vehicles are impounded.
Businesses that fail to comply with the code could be prosecuted or have their licence to practice taken away. Licensing will be administered and controlled by the Security Industry Authority.
Home Office Minister Alan Campbell said:
"The Government is committed to preventing abuses by unscrupulous wheel clamping firms and their employees.
"The introduction of an independent appeals process will for the first time provide independent recourse for motorists who feel aggrieved by unfair practices of rogue clamping businesses.
"The process will form part of the Government's compulsory licensing scheme, which will further regulate the industry and provide a fair system for motorists."
** Additional information & advice if you've been clamped **
If you've had your car clamped or towed away in circumstances you feel were unfair, you may want to speak with a solicitor. You can find a solicitor in your area for free via solicitor matching services, which can also help you to understand the best course of action for your situation and whether you are ready to hire a solicitor.