Controversial clamper may appeal conviction
Controversial New Plymouth clamper Daniel Clout is considering whether to appeal his conviction for operating without a licence.
But irate drivers who feel they may be owed a refund following this week's decision can think again.
On Monday, Clout was found guilty of operating without a security guard's licence under the Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Act at both the Richmond Centre and the King St carpark in November and December 2011.
During the defended hearing, Clout's lawyer Murray Smith, of Lower Hutt, argued that as a wheel clamper, Clout was not operating as a security guard.
Following the decision Smith said his client does not owe anyone a refund for the $120 he charged to remove the clamps - and has the backing of the judge.
There was still to be a discussion with Clout as to whether an appeal would be lodged, the lawyer said.
Smith predicts other wheel clampers would now be "quite concerned at the effect of the decision".
Clout declined to talk to the media about the case.
Clout had been wrongly targeted in what he said was a test case under the act, Smith said.
No other clamping companies he contacted had ever heard of a similar prosecution and the Department of Internal Affairs had never indicated to the industry that there was an issue with licences, Smith said.
Clout was no longer operating as a clamper, through his former business Egmont Security, yet was still charged. Clout was authorised by the owners of both properties to clamp anyone breaching their rules, Smith said.
"The fact that he had no licence doesn't invalidate the actions he could take [in clamping the vehicles and charging to have the clamps removed]."
In his decision Judge Allan Roberts declined the prosecution's request for a reparation order to refund one of the clamped drivers.
The New Zealand Security Association, which represents security firms, took a close interest in the case. "We believe that wheel clampers should be licensed and the decision to prosecute Mr Clout for operating without a licence supports this," association executive officer Gregg Watts said yesterday.
"This prosecution also paves the way for further prosecutions of unlicensed wheel clampers and would indicate that all wheel clampers should now be licensed."
Canterbury University associate law professor Cynthia Hawes told TV3 last year there were many grey areas in clamping laws.
The best way for this to be sorted out was for legislation to be introduced that "spells out" the legality of clamping, Hawes said.
The clamper's voluntary code states there must be clear, visible signs that warn parkers of the consequences of parking a vehicle on the property.
Taranaki Daily News