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This Note describes the law on wheel clamping on public roads and the legal position of clamping on private land. As this is a devolved issue in Scotland it deals with England and Wales only.

The legality of wheel clamping on public land is clearly set out in legislation and there are rules regarding signage and enforcement including the maximum amount of fine that can be charged and the circumstances in which vehicles can be clamped.

At present on private land, including car parks, clamping is by and large unregulated (except where undertaken by or on behalf of a public agency such as the DVLA). As a result there has been considerable controversy about the behaviour of private wheel clamping companies and even about the legality of clamping vehicles on private land.

The Labour Government legislated to introduce a proper licensing system for private clamping companies, but this did not cover things like signage and amount of fines to be charged. Labour did pass legislation on these latter matters but it was not commenced before the 2010 General Election.

The Coalition Government took office stating that it would ban clamping on private land in England and Wales. This was legislated for in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. Indications are that the ban will come into force before the end of 2012 and will be accompanied by new rules regarding the enforcement of parking tickets on private land.

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