New regulations will impact a wide group of owners, occupiers and anyone in control of property where clamping is in operation.

The Vehicle Clamping and Signage Regulations 2017 (Regulations) came into effect on 1 October 2017 and the new rules follow the enactment of the Vehicle Clamping Act 2015 (Act) on 1 June 2017.

Who do the Regulations apply to?

The Regulations apply to the “parking controller”, which is the person responsible for enforcing the laws or rules relating to the parking of vehicles in private and certain public parking areas. Importantly, even where a parking controller employs a clamping operator to manage parking areas on their behalf, they may still be liable. In light of this, many of the new rules will apply to owners, management companies, developers and other parties who might not believe they are responsible for ensuring proper clamping operations are in place on their property.

Main changes

The Regulations specify a number of wide-ranging provisions including the type of clamp to be used, the clamping operator's clothing and identification, the form of clamping notice, timeframes for clamping and relocating vehicles, signage requirements, maintenance of records and the maximum charges to be imposed for the removal of a clamp or relocation of a vehicle in private parking areas. We look at some of the main changes in more detail below.

Timeframes for clamping and relocating vehicles for failure to pay parking fee

  • A grace period of ten minutes must be allowed before a clamp can be fixed to a vehicle from the time the failure to pay the parking fee has been detected or the paid parking period has expired.
  • 24 hours must lapse from the time the failure to pay the parking fee has been detected before the vehicle can be removed or relocated, unless the vehicle was previously clamped within the last 12 months and the clamp removed without authorisation or a member of An Garda Síochána has requested its relocation.
  • Where the clamp release fee has been paid, the clamp must be removed within 2 hours of payment. If the vehicle has been relocated, the vehicle must be released within one hour of receiving the release fee payment.

Signage regulations

New detailed signage rules will apply from 1 April 2018 to all clamping places other than public roads. These rules provide that parking controllers are responsible for providing and maintaining clamping information signs which meet the requirements set out in the Regulations, including the size, dimension, content and location of the signs.

The clamping information signs must be clearly visible to drivers and must contain a new clamping symbol as well as the contact details of the clamping operator, a summary of the key terms and conditions including the clamp release fee and relocation fee.

Any signs already in place which comply with the Regulations (apart from inclusion of the new clamping symbol) may be retained until 1 January 2021, subject to the approval of the National Transport Authority.

Maximum clamping charges

The maximum clamping charges for private parking areas are as follows:

  • €125 where a vehicle has been clamped
  • €50 where a vehicle has been relocated within the parking area
  • €150 where the vehicle has been clamped and relocated within the parking area
  • €150 where the vehicle has been relocated to the pound and an additional €50 for each additional day it is left there.

Consequences for non-compliance

Failure to comply with the clamping regulations could result in significant fines. In particular, a person who imposes a clamp release fee or relocation fee above the maximum charge commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction for a class B fine (up to €4,000). The same penalty applies where a sign in a clamping place displays a clamp release charge or relocation charge greater than the maximum charge set by the Regulations.

Conclusion

The Regulations have introduced significant changes and in particular have sought to make parking controllers primarily responsible for compliance with the Regulations. Property owners and anyone in control of parking should review their current systems to ensure they are fully compliant with the new rules.