Carrying Stowaways and challenging Civil Penalties

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

The law requires that transport companies have an effective system in place to prevent the carriage of clandestine entrants (illegal stowaways) to the UK.

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

If UK customs discovers stowaways in your vehicle, your company and your driver can face civil penalties of up to £2,000 per migrant. We recommend seeking legal advice as soon as possible. We can make early representations to UK Border Force to try to avoid a Notice of Liability to a Penalty.

How we can help

Challenging financial penalties of this kind is one of our niche areas of expertise. We were involved in a High Court case which ruled that the system was in breach of European Law. This prompted the Government to do a u-turn and to take a more pragmatic approach to the issue of penalty notices.

We regularly prepare detailed objections to avoid the issue of penalties. If issued with a civil penalty notice, we have a high success rate in cancelling or significantly reducing penalties for our clients.

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

Our specialist  road transport lawyers will make written representations to resist the penalty entirely and advise the prospects of a successful challenge. To avoid a penalty, you must be able to show that:

  • You did not know, and did not have reasonable grounds to suspect that clandestine entrants were concealed in your 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, or was excessive. Our transport lawyers can bring an appeal to the County Court on your behalf. Should the matter proceed to a hearing, we will 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