The Vehicle Clamping Act regulates vehicle clamping and related matters. It provides for
- a two-tier appeal system to hear appeals against clamping and relocation;
- provision of appropriate signage when clamping is in operation;
- setting of maximum release and relocation charges;
- establishment of a code of practice.
The National Transport Authority has regulatory power in relation to
- administration of clamping,
- provision of signages where clamping is operated,
- setting of maximum charges, vehicle or relocation charges.
It may establish a code of practice for the purpose of providing practical guidance in relation to clamping matters as well as standards on general behaviour, duties and conduct of clamping operators and those engaging them.
The Minister may give policy directions to the NTA regarding its functions. The NTA is to regulate clamping in accordance with the Act.
NTA may make regulations in relation to
- clamping and relocation,
- release times after payment of appropriate charges;
- means of identification of clamping operators and vehicles;
- form of a clamping notice;
- the manner in which payment of a clamp release or vehicle relocation may be made;
- keeping of records and provision of information to NTA.
- where clamping information is provided electronically, the form and content of the information.
Different requirements and conditions may be made in relation to different clamping places and activities.
A person who fails to comply with the provisions of clamping regulations, which are stated to be penal provisions, commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a class A fine.
A parking controller must ensure that they provide signage which is prominently displayed, indicates that clamping activities are in operation and provide the relevant charges applicable.
Apart from on the public road, the NTA may make signage regulations in relation to the location, the informational content, the designs and dimensions, symbols displayed and number of signs to be displayed in the place where clamping activities are operated.
Failure to comply with signage obligations is an offence subject on summary conviction to a class A fine. A parking controller or clamping operator who charges a clamp release or location charge, higher than that displayed on the sign, commits an offence and is liable to a class B fine on summary conviction.
The NTA may establish codes of practice for establishing standards and providing practical guidance to clamping operators as well as establishing standards for those supervising the activities of clamping operators. It must consult with the Minister when either preparing a code or proposing to amend an existing code. The compliance with a code is admissible evidence in relation to criminal prosecutions.
Clamping operators or persons fixing a clamp to a vehicle must comply with the informational requirements provided for under the legislation. This does not apply to fixing an immobilisation device to an illegally parked vehicle, which is dealt with separately below.
There is an exemption for ambulance, fire brigade vehicles, or vehicles used by members of An Garda Síochána, Defence Forces in the performance of their duties, from being parked or relocated. A vehicle displaying a disabled person’s permit, shall be exempted from being clamped in statutory clamping places.
The NTA may by regulation, specify maximum clamp release and relocation charges that may be charged in places. Different maximum charges may be applicable to different circumstances. It is an offence to purport to charge a greater amount subject on liability to and summary conviction to a class B fine. Where no charge stand specified, the maximum clamp release fee that may be charged is €100 and the maximum vehicle relocation charge shall be €50.
Provision is made in relation to clamp release and vehicle relocation charges by statutory bodies such as airport operators, railway authorities, CIÉ, Harbours, Fishery Harbours and other bodies established by law. Any such body proposing to make a charge must consult with the NTA and have regard to its recommendations in relation to fixing such charges.
Where a clamping release and relocation charge is made prior to the commencement of the legislation, the NTA may make recommendations in relation to such charges, and the body concerned must have regard to the recommendations.
There are provisions in relation to
- The time period within which a clamp must be removed from of vehicle after a period of clamp release charge or its waiver,
- the time period for release of a relocated vehicle to which an owner cannot gain access.
Where the clamp is not removed or relocated vehicle released in accordance with the provision or the time period specified in regulations or none is specified, as soon as reasonably practicable, the charge and additional charges shall be refunded without delay.
Where the owner of a clamped or relocated vehicle can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the parking controller or clamping operator that their vehicle was parked while being used by another person without their authorisation, the parking controller or clamping operator shall waive the charge and remove the clamp from the vehicle. This does not apply to a vehicle immobilised on a public road.
Complaints and Appeals
A complaint procedure providing for consideration by members of the public regarding discharge of parking controller’s responsibility as well as the conduct, and identification of clamping operator. First stage appeal is to the parking controller, in relation to the vehicle, which has been clamped and relocated. Where a person is not satisfied, the second stage appeal is to an independent clamping appeals officer.
The parking controller, must have procedures to enable persons appeal against clamping or relocation. NTA may make regulations in relation to processing appeals. Failure to comply with the regulations is a fine subject on summary conviction to a class B fine.
The legislation provides for designation of one or more independent clamping appeals officer by the NTA. Provision is made for the time limits for lodging the second stage appeal and for the determination of such appeal. The NTA may prescribe procedures for hearing and determining appeals.
Authorised persons may be appointed by the NTA for the purpose of ensuring compliance with the legislation and undertaking inspections. They may apply to the District Court to search for a search warrant for evidence relating to an offence.
In the usual way, it is an offence to impede an authorised officer in the course of their functions. It is an offence to fail to comply with requirements or knowingly give false or misleading information. Any such failure or offence is subject to a class A fine on summary conviction.
The NTA may direct the parking controllers and clamping operators to furnish it with information in relation to compliance. Where it considers the operator is not complying with the regulations or a code of practice, it may direct individuals to comply. Where, having considered representations, made by a controller or clamping operator, it considers the information has not been given to it in compliance with the Act or regulations, it may apply to the Circuit Court for an order directing compliance.
The Road Traffic Act provisions in relation to immobilisation and removal of illegally parked vehicles in public roads and provision for prescription of charges in relation to removal and immobilisation devices is amended. Where an immobilisation device is fixed to a vehicle in accordance with legislation (public place) a fixed charge notice need not be served in respect of the contravention unless it is contemplated that proceedings for an offence in relation to a contravention might be brought.
The informational requirements of the notice, particularly in relation to giving details of the appeals process, is amended. Provision is made for a time period within which the device shall be removed from the vehicle after payment of the release charge or waiver. It prohibits immobilisation of a vehicle on a public road by any person other than the clamping officer or a person acting under their direction.
There is provision for exemption for a vehicle being used by a clamping operator in the course of his duties in a public place, certain road traffic byelaw. However a member of An Garda Síochána if he considers the vehicle endangers safety or impedes other road users, may require the clamping operator to move the vehicle.