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Cut clamp in private car park

I was clamped in a private apartment block by a private clamper. I cut the clamp myself. Am I liable for prosecution? Tim

Hi Tim. The application of a clamp on a car is a way in which the apartment management company imposes a lien or hold on your car pending the payment of a penalty.

To allow them to do this legally there have to be enough signs in the apartment block to warn drivers that clamping is in operation.  If these signs are not there or are not obvious to the average motorist then the clamping agency are guilty of creating a nuisance, a trespass to your property and the unlawful interference with the mechanism of a mechanically propelled vehicle (this latter phrase is usually used in car theft).  What I am saying is that if sufficient warning wasn’t given the clamping agency may have exposed itself not just to civil liability but also to criminal prosecution and if this is the case based on what you say is your argument would be that you were simply taking reasonable steps to abate the nuisance/trespass and retake possession of your car which was unlawfully interfered with.

If on the other hand there were sufficient signs and the clamp was lawfully applied then you may be liable for prosecution for criminal damage done to property (formerly known as malicious damage).

Anyone who feels unfairly clamped in similar situations should pay the fee and have recorded on the receipt that you're paying "without prejudice to the right to sue for its return and compensation". 

And Tim, if you are approached by the Gardai and invited to make a statement see a criminal solicitor first and make the statement under his or her advice, making it clear that you were simply abating a nuisance and there was certainly no intention to cause unnecessary damage.

The issues raised in the answer to this NewsTalk listener's question are dealt with in a general way as can only be the case on live radio. Before relying on the advice given in this answer, whether you heard the broadcast or are for the first time reading the issues here please do not rely on the broad advice given. For a detailed professional opinion please consult a qualified legal advisor and for further details read our disclaimer on the Home Page.

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