Operators whose trucks are seized by UK Border Force could suffer even greater financial penalties if the vehicle is leased, a leading lawyer has warned.
The warning follows a case recently highlighted by CM in which Dover firm Bywater Transport had its leased Mercedes-Benz truck seized by Border Force officials at the Port of Dover in December last year and has yet to have it returned.
While the lease company Sparshatts of Kent waived its fees after six months, and is currently helping the firm in its attempts to have the truck returned, Vikki Woodfine, head of road transport and logistics at law firm DWF, has warned that not all leasing firms are so understanding.
She said: “Operators with vehicles under hire purchase agreements should be especially wary of the risks emanating from a vehicle seizure. More finance agreements contain provisions allowing the lessee to require the return of financed vehicles or require lessors to pay up all money owed immediately.”
She added that this can sometimes be applied to all of the vehicles it hires, even if only one has been seized.
Woodfine continued that in some cases Border Force will sell the vehicle at auction rather than return it, often at a price lower than the value of the leased vehicle, leaving the operator responsible for paying the finance company the difference.
Vehicle seizure by Border Force can damage an operator’s business and threaten its reputation, Woodfine warned.
She advised that operators join Border Force’s free civil penalty accreditation scheme.