Legal advice for stowaway problems on the rise

Road transport solicitors Smith Bowyer Clarke (SBC) said it was dealing with 10 cases per week where hauliers were seeking legal advice after receiving fines for stowaways inside their vehicles. It came as vehicle security firm TrailerLock warned that attempts to stowaway inside unsecure trailers had increased due to the significant rise in unaccompanied freight amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Simon Clarke, SBC solicitor said: “We have around 10 new instructions per week where hauliers are seeking to appeal against the imposition of penalties for clandestine entrants running into the tens of thousands of pounds. In some cases, having to pay these penalties would mean the company going out of business. “We are well used to dealing with penalties in the range of £20,000 to £40,000; we have just closed one case where a haulier had imposed against him a £68,000 penalty, reduced by us on appeal to £20,000.”

Clarke added: “Drivers may be vigilant in checking their vehicles; however, thousands of illegal immigrants hide inside trucks heading for the UK each year. Despite Border Force accepting that a driver and haulier have no idea that the illegal immigrants were inside the truck, penalties will be imposed. One of the best ways to prevent this is by securing the doors of a trailer with a robust lock that cannot be disarmed.”

TrailerLock said over one million trailers travelling between GB to Europe were now classed as unaccompanied and the risk of clandestine entrants had risen as a result.

Lies prompt collapse of scaffolding firm

A Kent scaffolding firm whose operator lied to a deputy traffic commissioner about the use of one of its lorries has had its licence revoked. A1 Scaffolding, which traded out of an operating centre in Sandwich, appeared before deputy TC John Baker following an investigation that uncovered various failings.

The investigation was prompted by the operator’s application to increase the number of authorised vehicles, but the DVSA’s subsequent report found a lack of PMI records and inadequate driver daily walk round systems; a lack of systems for downloading driver or vehicle unit records; no disciplinary procedures and a failure by drivers to use their cards.

One vehicle was not specified on the operator’s licence until 10 months later and when this was queried at the PI, A1 Scaffolding director Farzad Takalobighashi claimed this was because it had been in the possession of a person called Kenny Coles who wanted to buy it.

It was only after DTC Baker reminded the director that it was better to be honest and tell the truth that Takalobighashi changed his story and admitted he had been using the vehicle during the whole period it had not been specified on the licence.

In a written decision, the DTC said he could not trust the operator and, as well as the revocation, he also disqualified the director for a year.