Inside the Industry

Private Landowners are permitted to take reasonable steps to prevent people parking on their land without permission. Issuing a Parking Charge Notice to illegally parked vehicles is the only viable option.

The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 makes a number of changes to the law related to parking. It bans private sector wheel-clamping and vehicle removal where there is no lawful authority to do so, and, as a balance to that, provides landholders with extra powers to manage parking on their land once the ban comes into force. It does this by allowing landholders, in certain circumstances, to hold the registered keeper of a vehicle liable for unpaid parking charges if the registered keeper refuses or is unable to name the driver at the time the parking charge was incurred. The relevant parts of the Act are:

 Section 54, which makes it an offence to clamp, remove or otherwise immobilise a vehicle without lawful authority in England and Wales, from 1 October 2012;

 Section 55, which gives the Secretary of State a power to make regulations allowing named authorities (such as the police), to remove vehicles from private land; and

 Section 56 and Schedule 4, which allows landholders to pursue “keeper liability” in relation to the recovery of unpaid parking charges on private land providing certain conditions are met.

 From 1 October 2012 only organisations with legal powers to clamp or remove vehicles (such as the Police, Government agencies and local authorities), will be able to do so. Most private organisations, including private landowners and their agents (ie “landholders”), will not be able to clamp or tow vehicles. However in a few cases, such as at airports, ports and some railway car parks, bye-laws may still give private landholders powers to clamp or tow vehicles. Consequently, after 1 October 2012 many private landholders will rely primarily on ‘ticketing’ to enforce parking conditions on their land. This could be by placing a parking ticket on a vehicle, giving it to the driver or sending a ticket to the vehicle’s registered keeper in the post.

Before the Protection of Freedoms Act, a private landholder could only seek liability against a vehicle driver to recover unpaid parking charges and therefore needed to be able to identify who was the driver of the vehicle that incurred the parking charge. A landholder could make a request to DVLA for details of the registered keeper but there was no requirement for the registered keeper either to say who was driving the vehicle or to accept liability him or herself. This allowed both the vehicle driver and the registered keeper to avoid liability and meant that landholders, on certain occasions, found it difficult to manage parking by ticketing alone.Schedule 4 of the Protection of Freedoms Act addresses this situation. It allows, providing certain conditions are met, the landholder to pursue the registered keeper of a vehicle for unpaid parking charges if the registered keeper refuses or is unable to identify the driver at the time the parking charge was incurred. This is often referred to as “keeper liability”. However, the registered keeper cannot be liable for any unpaid parking charges if he or she identifies the driver of the vehicle at the time the parking charge was incurred.

Schedule 4 of the Protection of Freedoms Act addresses this situation. It allows, providing certain conditions are met, the landholder to pursue the registered keeper of a vehicle for unpaid parking charges if the registered keeper refuses or is unable to identify the driver at the time the parking charge was incurred. This is often referred to as “keeper liability”. However, the registered keeper cannot be liable for any unpaid parking charges if he or she identifies the driver of the vehicle at the time the parking charge was incurred.