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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71041
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Hi, I have recently been away on holiday for a calendar

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I have recently been away on holiday for a calendar month and have a vehicle of which I am the registered keeper. Unfortunately due to an oversight when moving house my V5C had not been updated and the VED expired unnoticed.

When away on vacation the DVLA impounded my vehicle and upon my return I discovered this and immediately contacted them to claim the vehicle. I was told by the outsourced contractor who had impounded the vehicle on behalf of the DVLA that they were only required to retain the vehicle for 14 working days and if the vehicle was not claimed within this period it could be disposed of. The 14 working day period expired when I was away (given the duration of my vacation). Approximately 18 working days have passed since it was taken.

However, the vehicle has been transferred to an auction house for sale but has not yet been sold and will not be sold for two weeks. I have offered to pay all enforcement fees/costs prescribed by law. However, the subcontractor is insisting that the vehicle will be sold at auction. The auction house is willing to return the vehicle with the consent of the contractor.

My question relates to the ability of an owner to claim a vehicle which has been seized. My understanding is that the power to sell a vehicle in the above circumstances arises as a result of section 10 of The Vehicle Excise Duty (Immobilisation, Removal and Disposal of Vehicles) Regulations 1997 which states that a custodian may dispose of a vehicle by selling it or dealing with it as scrap, as he thinks fit subject to certain steps having been completed.

Section 12 of the regulations provide that a person may take possession of a vehicle that has been removed and delivered to a custodian and has not been disposed of under regulation 10 (subject to the person satisfying the custodian that he is the owner and payment of certain prescribed charges).

If the vehicle has not been auctioned but is awaiting auction can a claim still be made for recovery under section 12 and is there any way of satisfying the conditions in circumstances where the custodian is unwilling to accept payment or enter into discussions such that the conditions can be satisfied or any advice on appropriate next steps?


Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.

Just upon reading the legislation, it would seem that plainly S12 applies. S12 just requires seizure of a vehicle but before disposal. Clearly that is where this car is. The fact that they have reposed it with an auction house is non issue. Its under their control.

Beyond that the conditions are not complicated. You have to satisfy them that you are the registered keeper and pay the sum in question. Also, you have to show you are licenced and insured to drive away.

If they will not relent then you will have to take action under S17 here

If they refuse to act though then you could always sue them for your loss if the car were to sell at auction.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for the response.

I have two queries related to the above. 1) how does section 17 work as it seems to presuppose an amount has been paid to release a vehicle but that the basis for impounding is disputed; 2) practically how can the conditions to s12 ever be satisfied by a claimant if there is no engagement from the custodian as it requires proof to their satisfaction (with not specifics) and actual payment. If I don't have the relevant information to pay e.g someone willing to accept payment then how does this work in practice and if payment cannot be effected then what would be the basis of any claim//correspondence?
It does rely upon them to engage with you.

I have to say that I've never heard of a creditor refusing to release a car if the money is being offered. Apart from anything else its not in their interests because the car could under sell at auction.

If the DVLA just point blank refuse then you could always seek a civil injunction but I would be surprised if it goes that far. You need to negotiate with the DVLA though obviously not the auction house
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
In your view how does this sit legislatively.

Surely if s12 relies on payment being accepted then it is at risk of never being able to be invoked at the discretion of the authority which seems to defeat its object. It seems nonsensical that an authority could refuse payment when the settlement sum being offered would make them whole which is surely why s12 is drafted without reference to the 14 day period but to the actual sale.
Yes, it is nonsensical. I've never known them do it. Its not in their interests. The DVLA is very inefficient of course.

The only option here though I think would be to JR the decision to refuse as the appeal under S17 seems to lie on different facts.
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