The majority of motorists have had some sort of run in with clampers over the years and while we agree in principal with regulated, government backed clamping (sorry folks, you really can't just abandon your car wherever you see fit) there is little to support private clamping companies. The moral compass of many of these companies is shaky at best, with a lot of them having daily targets to hit. Clamping on private ground has been outlawed in the United Kingdom as of 2012. You can read about these changes here on the Telegraph
and the BBC
Despite new legislation coming into effect at the start of 2015 clamping on private ground is still legal in Ireland. The release fees have however been capped at €100.00 and the relocation fees capped at €50.00 (if you're about to wage war on an unscrupulous private clamping company be sure of your facts and read the full Vehicle Clamping Act 2015
Clamping is big business and Dublin City Council generated €4.24 million in 2014 from parking fines. Altogether, local authorities across the country collected more than €88 million from parking fines last year. I think its fair to say that, despite the expense and inconvenience caused by getting clamped most of us can see that regulated, government backed clamping is actually a good thing and plays an important role in improving traffic mobility throughout the cities of Ireland. The issues arise largely with private companies. One 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. 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.
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. Motorists 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 advise against the Homer Simpson approach though... 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!