Read Time 5 Minutes, 20 Seconds

“Car clamped outside my house, what should I do?” is a common question many people ask. A bailiff is obligated to keep your car clamped for a minimum of two hours prior to seizing it. But they’ll unclamp your car if you manage to settle the debt amount within that narrow window.

So, how does this entire process unfold? Keep reading to discover.

Charlie Walsh
Last updated on 2 October 2023
Fact Checked

Table of Contents

1. What is a CCJ?
2. Can a Bailiff Clamp My Car?
3. Can My Car Be Clamped on My Driveway?
4. What Cars Can’t Bailiffs Clamp?
5. How Long Will My Car Be Clamped For?
6. Can Bailiffs Clamp Cars on Private Property?
7. Can a Bailiff Clamp My Car on a Public Road?
8. Can Bailiffs Clamp My Car if it’s on Finance?
9. Can Bailiffs Take a Car That Isn’t Mine?
10. Complain if Bailiffs Wrongfully Clamp Your Car
11. Can You Legally Remove a Car Clamp?
12. How Do I Stop My Bailiff from Clamping My Car?
13. Can I Get a Debt Solution?
14. Where Can I Get Professional Advice?
15. Key Points


The minimum duration for which a bailiff can immobilise your car is two hours. If you do not settle the debt or propose a repayment plan within this two-hour period, the bailiffs have the authority to seize your vehicle.

In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive explanation regarding the question of “how long a bailiff can immobilise my car.” We will also discuss strategies to prevent bailiffs from confiscating your vehicle.

What is a CCJ?

A County Court judgment (CCJ) is a court order that you receive if you owe a debt to someone. It means that the court agrees with your creditor that you owe the money. Thus, you are obligated to pay (you are legally responsible for the debt). It’s vital to grasp this concept, especially if you’ve wondered, “Why is my car clamped outside my house?”

A CCJ typically includes the following details:

  • How much you owe
  • Who you should pay
  • How you should pay
  • Payment deadline

If you don’t pay a County Court Judgment within one month of receiving it, it will go into the records of the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines for a period of six years. You can ask the court to mark the CCJ as ‘satisfied’ on the register after you pay the debt within six years.

In order to do this, you should write to the court stating that you have completed all your payments and you no longer owe the debt. Make sure to attach proof along with this letter.

Also, a CCJ will be visible on your credit report for six years. So, you might find it tough to borrow new loans and credit cards during this time. The main reason for this is that lenders check your credit report to see if you’re a high-risk customer.

So, if you have a CCJ, it’s a sign that you struggled to pay your debts in the past, and a creditor had to go to court against you for it. Thus, this puts you under the high-risk customer category. But after six years, the CCJ will no longer be visible on your credit report, so you will be able to borrow once again.

Note that if you ignore a CCJ, this is where bailiffs will arrive at your home and clamp your vehicle.

Steps After Receiving a CCJ

First, don’t panic. It’s essential to act, not react. Consider the following:

  • Check the Details: Make sure the CCJ is accurate. Is the debt genuinely yours?
  • Respond Promptly: Ignoring it is the worst strategy. Whether you owe the money or believe there’s been a mistake, respond.
  • Seek Guidance: It’s wise to consult with a debt advisor or legal expert.
  • Payment Plans: If you owe the money, consider setting up a payment plan. Many creditors prefer receiving money over time than not at all.

Can a Bailiff Clamp My Car?

Yes. If you owe money and haven’t responded to the CCJ, a bailiff has the legal right to clamp your car. It’s their way of ensuring you address your dues.

Clamping of cars is also popular among bailiffs because they are usually some of the most expensive assets that an individual may own. It is also easy to sell. Apart from this, since cars are almost always parked outside of a home, bailiffs may find it easier to access them, thus making clamping the vehicle a popular choice.

Can My Car Be Clamped on My Driveway?

Yes, bailiffs possess the authority to clamp cars on your property or even on your business premises. They have the right to clamp your vehicle even if you don’t allow them to come inside your house.

This might seem shocking, but it’s all part of their power to reclaim debts only if they hold a warrant or a writ of conduct in their hand to seize your belongings.

What Cars Can’t Bailiffs Clamp?

Not every vehicle is up for grabs. Certain vehicles are immune from clamping.

This includes:

  • Vehicles that are essential for your medical or mobility needs are considered exempt goods.
  • Ambulances
  • Police vehicles
  • Cars displaying a disabled badge
  • A car that’s parked in your home but doesn’t belong to you
  • A hire purchase vehicle

So, if your vehicle belongs to these categories, you have less to worry about.

How Long Will My Car Be Clamped For?

An enforcement agent doesn’t have the right to take a car until it’s been clamped for at least 2 hours. So, if you don’t want bailiffs taking your car, act fast. You can stop bailiffs from taking your car by doing one of the following.

Pay Off The Debt

Pay the debt, along with the court costs and fees. To do this, contact the number in the document you got from the bailiff.

Usually, after your vehicle is clamped, they provide you with a warning of immobilisation. It includes details such as when it was clamped along with contact details. So this is all the information you need if you decide to pay the debt and other fees.

Agree to a Controlled Goods Agreement

If you can’t pay the debt, agree to a Controlled Goods Arrangement. Calculate the amount that you are able to pay and make an offer. Even if the bailiffs don’t accept the offer, if you show your total income and expenditure, there’s a possibility that your offer will be accepted.

If the bailiffs create a Controlled Goods Agreement, you will be able to keep your assets listed in the document as long as you pay the repayment plan. But in a case where you fail to, they will seize your assets and sell them to cover the debt. So make sure you only agree to a repayment plan that you’re sure you can afford.

Can Bailiffs Clamp Cars on Private Property?

No, bailiffs cannot clamp a car that is on private property which doesn’t belong to the debtor. This includes friends, family members, or even neighbours. However, while your driveway is your personal space, bailiffs have the legal right to clamp cars that are on your property.

However, they cannot clamp your car if it’s in a secured, locked area like a garage.

Can a Bailiff Clamp My Car on a Public Road?

Yes, without a doubt. Especially if you haven’t dealt with a CCJ, bailiffs can and will clamp your car on public roads. But they can’t keep it clamped indefinitely. This is because bailiffs use cameras to detect registration numbers while they drive around. So, if your car is on a public road, there’s a risk that they will find it.

Can Bailiffs Clamp My Car if it’s on Finance?

Bailiffs don’t have the right to take your car if it’s on a hire purchase agreement and you’re still paying for it. This is because the car is not legally yours until you pay off the whole amount. So, the vehicle belongs to the hire purchase company/third party.

Despite this, since the law is not direct on this, bailiffs might try to clamp your vehicle or take it away if you refuse to pay. The best way to deal with this is to simply prove that your vehicle is on hire purchase by showing the documents or the agreement as further evidence of your ongoing payments.

You can check using the HPI check website to establish that your car is under a hire purchase agreement and that you are still making payments. By accessing this website and entering your car’s registration number, you can obtain a report that demonstrates the current financial status of your vehicle.

Can Bailiffs Take a Car That Isn’t Mine?

No, Bailiffs are generally not authorised to seize a vehicle that does not belong to you. If bailiffs mistakenly clamp or take a car that isn’t yours, you have rights. Ensure you have proof of ownership handy. If they’ve made an error, the owner of the vehicle can challenge the clamp and might even be eligible for compensation.

However, note that if bailiffs try to clamp a car that doesn’t belong to you, you get two hours to prove it. So make sure to use that time wisely and show them documentation as proof.

Complain if Bailiffs Wrongfully Clamp Your Car

If you believe your car was unjustly clamped, don’t fret. Launch a formal complaint. Document all details, gather evidence, and approach the right channels.

When complaining, try to provide a rationale for your belief that the bailiffs have violated regulations and present supporting evidence for your assertion. If the bailiffs decline to remove the clamp, it is advisable to get in touch with a debt advisor. Knowing your rights and the appropriate steps will empower you.

Can You Legally Remove a Car Clamp?

You cannot legally remove a clamp unless you have a valid release order or permission from the bailiff. Attempting to remove it unlawfully can lead to more severe penalties. The only way you can ask them to remove it is if you agree to a repayment plan/Controlled Goods Arrangement or settle the debt in full.

Keep in mind you have only 2 hours in hand to discuss with them and find a solution. Therefore, you need to take action quickly to avoid your car being seized by bailiffs.

How Do I Stop My Bailiff from Clamping My Car?

Your best weapon here is communication. Reach out to the bailiff or the agency. Propose viable payment plans or present legitimate reasons for the debt delay. Often, a logical discussion can prevent drastic actions.

You can also try parking your vehicle at a friend’s or a family member’s property. Alternatively, park the vehicle in your garage and carefully lock it so that bailiffs cannot access it.

Can I Get a Debt Solution?

If you’ve ever wondered, “With my car clamped outside my house, is there a way out?”. Dont worry; you’re not alone. There are multiple alternative debt solutions available in the UK that you can take up. Some of them even allow you to write off a portion of your unaffordable debt.

But keep in mind that while choosing the right debt solution may allow you to write off debt, the wrong one can be expensive and even worsen your situation. So make the choice wisely.

We recommend you speak to a debt charity for advice or speak to a qualified and licensed debt advisor. Alternatively, feel free to fill out our online form, and our Money Advisor team will guide you.

Below is a detailed list of various debt solutions available in the UK.

Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs)

Think of an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) as a structured agreement between you and your creditors. It lasts for six years and allows you to:

  • Consolidate all your debts: Paying multiple debts can be chaotic. An IVA bundles them into a single monthly payment.
  • Get debt written off: Part of your debt will be written off after the 6-year IVA period.

The eligibility for an IVA depends on your unique circumstances. You should owe several thousands of pounds to multiple creditors to get an IVA. However, an IVA might just be the lifeline you need to prevent that dreaded situation such as a car clamped outside your house.

Debt Management Plans (DMPs)

A Debt Management Plan (DMP) is a flexible debt resolution method that enables you to consolidate your debts into a single monthly payment. Due to its informal nature, it lacks legal binding, meaning you are not obligated to commit to a minimum number of payments within a DMP.

Trust Deed

Since IVAs are not available in Scotland, you can instead choose a Trust Deed. Trust Deeds work in a similar way to an IVA. You should pay an agreed portion of the debt every month, and that amount gets divided among your creditors. During this period, your creditors cannot contact you, and the debt that’s left will be written off after the Trust Deed term.

Debt Relief Order (DRO)

A Debt Relief Order (DRO) is a great option for anyone who’s struggling to pay off their debt and has no assets and little income.

  • A DRO allows you to not make any payments for 12 months.
  • During this time, your creditors will not charge you an interest and will not contact you.
  • If your finances don’t improve within this period, you might be able to write off your unsecured debts.
Bankruptcy: The Last Resort

If you find yourself burdened with debts that seem insurmountable and have no practical means of repayment, you may need to consider filing for bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy often carries an unwarranted social stigma, but for some, it offers the sole opportunity to make a clean financial start.

Nonetheless, it’s crucial to recognise that bankruptcy is a grave financial step that should be approached with utmost seriousness. It’s because it can affect your credit score, job prospects, and more.

Seeking Professional Guidance

The journey to debt freedom isn’t one you need to walk alone. Professional advisors can guide you, offering solutions tailored to your situation. They’ll provide a clear path, addressing questions like, “How can I prevent bailiffs from clamping my car?” or “What’s the best debt solution for me?”

Debt might seem insurmountable now, but remember, every problem has a solution. With the right strategy, guidance, and determination, a debt-free life is attainable.

Where Can I Get Professional Advice?

The UK is home to numerous reputable organisations offering free or affordable advice on debt solutions. Don’t hesitate to reach out. Getting informed and professional advice is a giant leap towards finding a solution. Some debt charities you can reach out to for free advice include:

  • National Debtline
  • StepChange
  • Citizens Advice
  • Debt Advice Foundation

Or, If you’re unsure as to which debt solution is suitable for you, feel free to fill out our online contact form, and our Money Advisor Team will guide you.

Key Points

  • A County Court Judgment (CCJ) is a legal decree issued against individuals who have failed to repay a debt. If unresolved, a CCJ could lead to bailiff actions like car clamping.
  • It takes a minimum of 2 hours for a bailiff to clamp your car. After that, they possess the right to take it if you neither pay off the debt nor present a repayment offer.
  • A significant portion of UK residents could legally write off part of their debts.
  • Bailiffs are authorised to clamp your car on your property, business premises, or public roads. However, they cannot clamp a car on someone else’s private land without possessing a court order.
  • You can keep your car by Settling the debt in its entirety, consenting to a Controlled Goods Agreement, or tactically parking your car on private premises or within a locked garage.
  • Bailiffs are restricted from clamping cars under Finance or vehicles owned by a third party. Yet, it’s crucial to present adequate proof to deter undue clamping.
  • In instances where your car gets clamped wrongfully, it’s imperative to lodge a complaint with the concerned creditor and the bailiff company. Moreover, seeking advice from an experienced debt advisor might be beneficial.
  • If debts appear overwhelming, there exist solutions such as Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) and Debt Management Plans (DMPs), which might be apt depending on individual circumstances.
  • While your car clamped outside your house might be distressing, understanding where bailiffs can and can’t clamp is essential for taking appropriate actions.
  • When faced with the troubling sight of your car clamped outside your house, it’s always advisable to seek expert guidance to navigate through your debt and the associated legalities.

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