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I hired someone to refinish a piece of furniture. He took the piece, sent pictures of the progress as he worked on it. I communicated to him several times as to the status and he has not responded to me, nothing, zip, zilch, nada. I was thinking of wheel locking his vehicle until he returns my furniture. At this point I do not care if it is unfinished and will gladly pay for his labor to date. Would it be legal to do so?

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    Nobody can really answer this because we don't know what laws apply to you - you haven't said where you live. I strongly suspect that this is not legal, and you would be punished the same as if you wheel-locked any random vehicle on the street. Being in a dispute with someone doesn't give you the right. If he won't return your furniture, the law provides courts where you can sue him - that's your legal remedy. – Nate Eldredge Sep 26 at 12:22
  • The proper response (in respect to the US) is to sue that person (probably in small claims) for the return of your property. The judge will then order it returned and you can go there with a civil stand-by (cop) to retrieve your property. If it is damaged, you sue them again for the damages to the property. It's almost never allowed to constructively seize another persons property over a debt especially if that property was not offered as collateral, and even moreso if the property seized is not proportionally valued to the debt. – Ron Beyer Sep 26 at 13:43
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It would certainly not be legal in Scotland (there was a court case in about this in the context of parking). I am pretty sure it would not be legal in England and Wales (there has been legislation to allow wheel clamping - but only in certain circumstances, and yours is not one of them).

Outside of Great Britain, "it depends on the jurisdiction". However this is a form of "self help", and at least all the legal systems derived from that of England (which covers pretty much all of the common law jurisdictions apart from Scotland) tend to disapprove of self help. (In fact the oldest, still active, statute law in England is the Statute of Marlborough from 1267 which is partially about prohibiting self-help.)

In general, you will have to sue for the return of your furniture.

Note: The law commission proposed repealing one section of the Statute of Marlborough relating to self-help because it has since been obsoleted by more recent laws; it may already have been repealed.

  • I thought the Cameron government specifically prohibited all private wheel-clamping on private land, including where cars were parked without owners permission or without paying a requite fee. As far as I know in Britain the only people authorised to wheel-clamp are the police. There may be other bodies specifically licensed to do so. I don't know. But as you rightly say the only remedy is to sue. It is though a different matter when and if the other party becomes your judgment debtor. – WS2 Sep 26 at 13:00

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