Appeal Home Office Civil Penalty Notice
Received A Civil Penalty UK? You Are Not Alone
If you have recently received a Home Office Civil Penalty Notice, you are not alone. Increased pressure by government, and towards government, to eliminate illegal working has led to a significant increase in the issuance of civil penalties. UKVI has responded to pressure by increasing the amount of audits and inspection visits to companies in their quest for identifying and sentencing those who employ illegal workers. Any workers outside the European Economic Area (EEA) working in the UK without formal permission are considered illegal workers.
Civil Penalties Create Long-Term Problems
A civil penalty can mark the end of a business. These penalties result in a negative record, fine up to £20,000 per illegal worker, criminal prosecution and the loss of right to employ migrant workers.
This damage will have an extended effect on business connections, the loss of ability to conduct transactions and maintain contracts, and the loss of current skilled foreign workers along with an inability to further employ non-EU skilled foreign workers. Many businesses are already finding the current economy a challenge, and these implications lead to businesses shutting their doors for good.
Fortunately, receiving a civil penalty does not have to be a finality. There are some options available for businesses if they take immediate action.
Making A Civil Penalty Appeal
You have the option to appeal a civil penalty notice. If your civil penalty is for the employment of illegal workers, you have a time frame of 28 days when you can either appeal the penalty, or pay the fine in its entirety. There is no flexibility with this window of time, so you must be quick and calculated in your response.
It’s important to note that if an appeal leads to the revelation of more damaging information against your company, the penalties may increase. It’s vital to get expert advice before proceeding and ensure that your appeal position is strong.
The first point of action is to lodge a written objection. If this written objection is unsuccessful you can request a hearing to present your appeal.
Contact a reputable immigration lawyer to work on your behalf to establish a plan of defence. It is critical to engage someone who has expertise and experience in immigration law, and has obtained successful rulings on behalf of clients. They will take into account your unique situation in order to customise a strong appeal.
Within 28 days of being issued your penalty, post your written protest with a statement about your disagreement of the penalty. There are three options:
- If the penalty has been levied for workers that are not in your employ, state that this penalty is not within your liability.
- If you took appropriate actions to check for illegal workers, and had no reason to suspect that they were illegal, you may claim a statutory excuse. This must be stated in your defense.
- If you have acted in a reasonable and cooperative manner throughout your audit and review, and your business has established methods for being compliant, you may state that the penalty has been issued at an unreasonable level, and request an adjustment of the fine.
If your Phase 1 appeal is not successful, you may take additional action. Within 28 days of being denied your written appeal, register a protest at the County Court, enabling you to receive a hearing.
It’s critical that you take every necessary action to prepare thoroughly for this hearing. This is your final opportunity to have the penalty adjusted or repealed. It is advisable to engage an expert immigration lawyer as part of your appeal team. The experience and knowledge of a seasoned immigration lawyer will be invaluable to your case and success. In the hearing, you will be able to present all documentation in your defense.
A further advantage to being completely prepared for your defence is the possibility that UKVI will initiate a settlement with you before the hearing takes place. The likelihood of this increases when you possess strong evidence in support of your case.