Haulage Companies and Lorry Drivers

* Are you operating between Calais or Dunkirk to the UK? Is the Carriers’ Liability penalty scheme of the UK Home Office, operated through the UK Border Force, having an increasing the impact on your livelihood or business?

* Are you or your drivers finding it increasingly difficult to avoid confrontation with people trying to access your vehicles in order to travel to the UK?

* Have any of your drivers been in the UK Immigration Control Zones in Calais or Dunkirk with people located in the lorry when you and they have done everything realistically possible to prevent access?

* Have you received a letter from the UK Border Force or a Notice of Liability to a Civil Penalty?

* Have you lost business or incurred costs as a result of damage to goods, refusal of customers to take goods, communications from the UK Border Force to your customers or failure to obtain compensation from insurance companies?

* If so, expert legal advice and assistance from Fountain solicitors could provide you with support, reduce your costs and help protect your business and drivers.

* In addition, we can also assist in setting up systems for your company that reduce the risk of fines being levied against drivers and companies.

* We have an expert team which specialises in dealing with immigration cases and has extensive experience in dealing with the UK immigration authorities and action through the courts. For non-urgent matters, please complete the enquiry form or email Sue Conlan on sconlan@fountainsolicitors.com. Free consultations up to 30 minutes are available, otherwise fixed fees agreed in advance are charged. If the case is urgent, please call Sue on +44 7791 991756 (UK) or +353 85 803 0114 (Republic of Ireland).

Carriers’ Liability scheme and penalties

Fines for individuals and companies that are found to have people in their vehicles who do not have the right to enter the UK, known by the UK Border Force as ‘clandestine entrants’, were first introduced in 1987. With the agreement between the UK and France to operate UK immigration controls in France and the greater pressures arising from people without passports or visas trying to leave France and enter the UK, an increasing number of drivers and the companies that employ them have been found with people in their lorries and, depending upon where they were found and what steps were taken to try to prevent access to the vehicle, fines have been levied up to the maximum of £2000 per ‘clandestine entrant’. The current system of charges has been in force since December 2002.

The notices of liability to a penalty (fine) issued by the UK Border Force ‘encourage’ early settlement by payment of the fees, referring for example, to the risk of vehicles being impounded if there is reason to believe that the fine will not be paid within 60 days. The notices fail to mention that the exercise of the right of appeal suspends any action against the owner.

Haulage companies and the drivers they employ are encouraged to adopt the systems set out in the Civil Penalty Prevention of Clandestine Entrants: Code of Practice. But the Code does not address the reality of the situation that drivers and haulage companies are facing in areas leading up to or close to ports such as Calais. Work began in September 2016 to build a wall at the port of Calais to further prevent access to vehicles arriving at the port intending to travel on to the UK. Increasing the barriers to try to prevent people entering the UK illegally has the main effect of pushing the problem elsewhere, including to other stops en route to Calais that drivers stop at, sometimes in order to comply with the law regarding periods of rest.

Companies and their drivers who wish to look into the possibility of replying to a UK Border Force letter alleging that the driver and the company did not take sufficient steps to secure the vehicle against illegal entry or who wish to challenge a notice of liability should get expert legal advice from Fountain solicitors. We have an understanding of immigration law, the UK immigration systems and the significant practical difficulties which drivers and haulage companies are facing at ports such as Calais and Dunkirk and will work on a fixed fee basis for the work undertaken. Companies can therefore assess the actual legal costs against the fines which they are facing. The fixed fees include a visit to company premises if that is required and therefore does not necessitate a representative of the company or the driver attending one of the offices of Fountain solicitors although that is an option if preferred. Any work associated with the incident which led to the risk of a fine, including insurance claims, can also be undertaken for a further fixed fee in line with the compensation sought.

In response to a particular situation or in advance of problems occurring, Fountain solicitors can also offer advice and assistance in establishing systems which meet the criteria laid out by the UK Border Force in their Code of Practice and which enable a company to apply for accreditation with the UK Border Force, thereby reducing the risk of fines.