Clandestine Entrants & Civil Penalties

Clandestine Entrants & Civil Penalties

Road Transport Operators and their Drivers are jointly responsible for securing their vehicles entering the UK in order to prevent the carriage of clandestine entrants or illegal migrants.

It is vital Transport Operators and their Drivers have robust procedures in place for vehicle security and that these are fully communicated to all of their drivers and that they adhere to the Operator’s policies.

The Immigration & Asylum Act 1999 provides that if the Owner, Hirer and Driver of the vehicle do not have an “effective system” in place for preventing the carriage of clandestine entrants and do not ensure the proper operation of that system, that they shall all be jointly liable for civil penalty.

If stopped by UK Border Agency and Illegal Immigrants are found, a current penalty of up to £2,000 for each stowaway/clandestine entrant can be imposed.  The vehicle’s driver, owner and/or hirer can all be served with civil penalty notice/s requesting a penalty be paid.

The law prescribes that the Civil Penalty Notice can be avoided if there was an effective system for preventing the carriage of clandestine entrants which was being operated on the occasion and that the carrier can show that he did not know, and had no reasonable grounds for suspecting that stowaways might be concealed.

In assessing whether there was an “effective system” Road Transport Companies and their Drivers must have regard to the code of practice.

An effective system for transport operators includes:-

  • Written instructions being issued to Drivers on how to use the Operator’s system;
  • Robust security devices being used to effectively secure the vehicle, load and load space;
  • Provision of training for drivers on how to use the system and security devices provided;
  • The provision of vehicle security check lists to drivers;
  • Ensuring that drivers are following the instructions provided.

Our Team are experts in this area, regularly assisting Operators and Drivers to persuade UK Border Agency to reduce a penalty from what is initially issued, or even to waive it entirely.

Within 28 days from the date on the Civil Penalty Notice/s there is the right to object to the financial penalties imposed so it is vital that you seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity. Our dedicated Road Transport Solicitors are ready to answer any questions you may have regarding UK Border Agency and the Civil Penalty regime.

Often following our objections, the penalty imposed or its amount is waived or discounted but if not, following the objection procedure there is the further opportunity to appeal to a County Court against the penalty or its amount.  This opportunity exists regardless of whether you lodge a written notice of objection to the civil penalty notice/s. Sometimes you can seek a further review first based upon the operator or driver’s finances and means to pay a civil penalty.

Our experience has shown that in most cases when written representations are made on behalf of our clients that the civil penalties are reduced significantly and often waived altogether.

We can also assist with any application for the UK Border Agency’s Accreditation Scheme or help you put together appropriate written policies in relation to your procedures for preventing the carriage of stowaways.  In addition, if a Civil Penalty has not yet been issued and matters are at a pre-decision stage, we can write on your behalf to UK Border Agency setting out reasons as to why a penalty might not be levied against you and your driver.

Clandestine Entrants & Civil Penalties – Advice & Support

For further information we also operate a dedicated road transport law website with more detailed advice on Civil Penalties and clandestine entrants for transport operators – visit

For expert advice and assistance if you have been served with a Civil Penalty Notice for carrying stowaways, contact one of our Specialist Road Transport Lawyers on Freephone 0800 088 6280.