Carrying Stowaways and defending Civil Penalties

Have you been discovered with clandestine entrants or stowaways in your vehicle?

The law requires that transport companies or vehicle operators and drivers have an effective system in place to prevent the carriage of clandestine entrants or illegal stowaways and comply with the terms of the Civil Penalty Code of Practice.

If you have a Civil Penalty Notice contact our team on 0115 910 6218.

Both the driver and owner of the vehicle can face joint and separate civil penalties of up to £2000 per entrant if it is discovered that clandestine entrants are hiding in your vehicle. If you find yourself in this situation we recommend seeking legal advice as soon as possible so that we can make early representations to UK Border Force, otherwise they will issue a Notice of Liability to a Penalty.

How we can help

At Keep Me On The Road this is one of our niche areas of expertise and we were involved in a High Court case which ruled the system was in breach of European Law which prompted the Government to do a u-turn and take a more pragmatic approach with issue of penalty notices.  We regularly prepare objections and put forward the most convincing cases and successfully avoid the issue of penalties. If issued with a civil penalty notice, we regularly have penalties reduced or rescinded for our clients.

We also regularly receive instructions from Foreign Operators and Drivers as well as UK Hauliers.

Our specialist  road transport lawyers can make written representations to resist the penalty entirely and advise whether a defence to incurring the civil penalty is available. To defend you must be able to demonstrate that:

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

Appealing a civil penalty

There is a statutory right to appeal civil penalties issued by the UK Border Force. This is regardless of whether a Notice of Objection has been filed in response to the penalty notice. Appeals must be made to the County Court within 28 days of the date of the issue of the penalty. If objections have been raised, appeals must be made within 28 days of the Determination of Objection.

Reviewing a civil penalty

A judge will consider if a penalty was wrongly imposed. They might also determine if a reduction to the amount of the penalty should be made. Our transport lawyers can bring an appeal to the County Court on your behalf. Should the matter proceed to a hearing, we can provide representation at the hearing.

Carrying Stowaways and defending Civil Penalties Solicitors – 

For further advice and assistance on the law concerning carriers’ liability and clandestine entrants, contact our road transport law team on 0115 910 6218 or email