Clandestine entrants

Stephensons assists hauliers facing civil penalties following the discovery of clandestine entrants in their vehicles. These penalties can be severed and imposed against drivers and owners of vehicles both jointly and separately. If you face action by the UK Border Agency following the discovery of clandestine entrants, contact our specialist lawyers without delay on 0203 816 9274.

A clandestine entrant is a person who enters the UK concealed in a vehicle in order to evade border controls. Operators of commercial vehicles entering the UK are required to implement effective systems to prevent clandestine entrants stowing away in their vehicles.

If clandestine entrants are discovered in a commercial vehicle, the operator and driver each face a separate civil penalty of up to £2,000 per entrant. These cases normally involve multiple entrants within a vehicle and as such the penalties imposed can be significant. Where penalties are unpaid or unlikely to be paid, the UK Border Agency can impound vehicles.

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A defence to the civil penalty can be available. To rely on the defence an operator/driver must demonstrate the following:

  • They did not know, nor had reasonable grounds to suspect, that clandestine entrants were concealed in the vehicle
  • An effective system was in place for preventing the carrying of clandestine entrants
  • That system was being properly operated at the material time

Even where the defence cannot be relied upon, the penalty imposed can be challenged to the UK Border Agency regarding the specific circumstances of the case. Unsatisfactory penalties can be challenged in the County Court.

If one of your vehicles has been found to contain clandestine entrants and you face action by the UK Border Agency, you should seek specialist legal advice as soon as possible to protect your interests. For a no-obligation discussion with one of our specialist lawyers, please call 0203 816 9274.

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