Compliance & Civil Penalties

Place your faith in Cranbrook Legal when you’re seeking capable and seasoned central London lawyers. We can advise and guide your organisation in relation to compliance and civil penalties, drawing upon our over 25 years’ experience in business immigration law.

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Compliance & Civil Penalties

When your organisation is looking to employ workers from overseas, it must ensure it is on the right side of the law. Failure to ensure compliance can result in potentially crippling civil penalties for businesses found to be in breach of the rules.

This is where our experienced immigration solicitors here at Cranbrook Legal greatly prove their worth. We are an award-winning law firm in central London, with a track record stretching back more than 25 years.

Most importantly, we have an excellent reputation of assisting and advising businesses in relation to compliance issues and civil penalties.

We can devise creative solutions to help your business achieve compliance, and help reduce fines you may receive if you are found to be employing illegal workers. We have also been successful in settling the penalty for many of our clients without the need to go to court. For more information, please call 0208 215 0053 now.

How can you help me challenge the Penalty?

If you are found guilty of employing someone who you knew – or had ‘reasonable cause to believe’ –was not legally entitled to work in the UK, you could be issued with an unlimited fine or even sent to jail.

There are various potential reasons why a given individual may not have the right to work in the UK. They may not have had leave (permission) to enter or remain in the UK, or their leave may have expired. Alternatively, the worker might not be permitted to do certain types of work, or their papers may be false or incorrect.

As an employer, you may also receive a civil penalty if you employ someone who lacks the right to work in the UK, and you failed to perform the necessary checks, or you did not undertake these checks properly.

If you do fail to properly check your employees’ right to work in the UK, you may receive a ‘referral notice’, to inform you that the Home Office will be further considering your case. This, in turn, may lead to you being issued with a ‘civil penalty notice’, a ‘warning notice’ or a ‘no action notice’.

If you do receive a ‘civil penalty notice’, this will state how much you must pay – which can be up to £20,000 for each illegal worker – and the date by which you are required to pay the fine. Information will also be provided on how you can object to the civil penalty notice.

Here at Cranbrook Legal, we have a superb track record of helping clients to reduce fines that they receive. We can often settle penalties for our clients before the case even gets to court. Our London solicitors possess a high level of knowhow and experience in UK immigration law, which we draw upon to come up with creative solutions to our clients’ compliance concerns.

Employers that have been issued with a civil penalty notice are entitled to lodge an objection with the Home Office or appeal to a County Court.

If you have received a civil penalty notice or a referral notice, please get in touch with our compliance solicitors today. We provide a highly transparent service to our clients for a fixed fee, project-managing cases to a successful conclusion.

When you first make an enquiry with us, we can provide advice and assistance in relation to your case, including the submission of any information that may be required to the Home Office as part of an objection, or in response to an information request. We can also advise you as to whether your organisation will be able to set out a statutory excuse.

If you are interested in making the strongest possible objection to a civil penalty or reducing the level of the fine that may have been imposed on you, please enquire today to our experienced immigration lawyers.

Even if you are simply unsure about your company’s present degree of compliance or uncertain of what next step to take, you are welcome to enquire to our experienced professionals. When you do, we will communicate with you clearly and concisely, answering all of your questions about compliance and civil penalties.

Why have the Home Office fined me?

The Home Office may issue you with a civil penalty if it finds you to be employing illegal workers. An employer can be hit with such a fine under the Immigration Act if it knows or has ‘reasonable cause to believe’ one or more of its employees is not legally entitled to work in the UK.

As an employer, you can also receive a fine if you employ someone without undertaking the correct checks, or if you didn’t carry out these checks properly.

There has been greater political pressure on the UK Government in recent years to tackle illegal working, which has led to a major rise in the number of civil penalty notices issued to businesses across the country. UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) conducts unannounced audits and inspection visits to companies to help it identify and penalise organisations employing illegal workers.

How long do we have to challenge the decision?

On receiving a civil penalty notice, you will have 28 days from the date stated in the notice to lodge an objection. You are usually required to exercise your objection against a penalty before you will be permitted to appeal to a civil court. Your civil penalty notice will clearly state the date by which the Home Office must receive your objection.

Once the Home Office has made a decision on your objection, or if you have not been told about a decision on your objection within 28 days, you will have the right to bring an appeal to a civil court. You will have 28 days from the date given in your notice to lodge an appeal, unless a longer period has been agreed.

How can we challenge the Home Office decision?

Included with the civil penalty notice will be the objection form that you can use to lodge your objection.When you complete this form, you will be expected to indicate the grounds on which you are objecting, from the specified list below, along with your reasons and supporting evidence:

  • You are not liable to pay the penalty (for example, because you are not the employer of the illegal worker(s) identified in the civil penalty notice);
  • You have a statutory excuse (meaning you undertook the necessary document checks); and/or
  • The penalty level is too high (meaning the Home Office has miscalculated the amount of penalty you are required to pay due to referring to the wrong scale, or you have evidence that you have met specified mitigating criteria that the Home Office has failed to take into account).

It is important to provide the strongest possible evidence to support your objection, as a Home Office caseworker will review this to determine whether your civil penalty should be:

  • Cancelled and closed
  • Cancelled and replaced by a formal warning
  • Maintained
  • Reduced in amount
  • Increased in amount

The Home Office will then issue you with one of the below notices to inform you of the result of your objection, within 28 days of their receiving your completed objection form:

  • A warning notice
  • A new civil penalty notice (where the penalty is increased)
  • An objection outcome notice (penalty maintained)
  • An objection outcome notice (penalty reduced)
  • An objection outcome notice (penalty cancelled)

Whichever of these notices you receive, it will be accompanied by a ‘statement of case’, outlining the evidence and explaining the reasons for the decision the Home Office has reached in your case.

When the outcome of your objection against the civil penalty notice has been determined, or if you have not been told of a decision on your objection within 28 days, you will be entitled to bring an appeal to the civil court.

If you decide to take this route, you will need to lodge your appeal within 28 days from the date to do so that is stated in your notice, unless a longer period has been agreed.

You can appeal against your civil penalty to a County Court in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and to the Sherriff Court in Scotland. However, any appeal must be lodged within the deadline set out in your civil penalty notice.

Those appealing against a civil penalty notice in England and Wales are required to file their appeal using Form N161, which can be obtained from any County Court office or the website of HM Courts & Tribunals Service. The completed appeal form must be submitted along with the relevant fee.

When you lodge an appeal against your civil penalty, the court may take any of a number of courses of action:

  • Allowing the appeal and cancelling the penalty;
  • Allowing the appeal and reducing the penalty; or
  • Dismissing the appeal

When you reach out to our London immigration solicitors on your first receipt of a civil penalty notice, we will advise you on your situation and can immediately begin working on your behalf to challenge the decision.

Within the first 28 days of you having received a civil penalty notice, we can send the Home Office a written legal representation, setting out your grounds for objecting to the penalty notice. If this objection is not successful, within 28 days of your written application having been rejected, we can register an appeal at the County Court on your behalf, so that you can receive a hearing.

This hearing will be your last chance to have the penalty adjusted or repealed – so it is crucial to present the most convincing possible case. Our own immigration lawyers will help make this possible, by bringing together documentation for your defence; we will also be able to call on expert witnesses if needed.

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What if we are unsuccessful with our challenge?

If you object to a civil penalty notice and are unsuccessful, and the Home Office decides to increase the penalty, you will be issued with a new civil penalty notice. You will then be expected to pay the penalty in full, or to set up payment by instalments. You are also entitled to object to any such new notice, but also have the right to appeal the penalty without first needing to raise another objection.

In the event of your penalty amount being reduced or staying the same, you will be issued with either an objection outcome notice (penalty reduced) or an objection outcome notice (penalty maintained), respectively. Again, you will have the option here to pay the penalty in full or to set up payments by instalments; you will also be entitled to appeal against the penalty by the deadlines the notice sets out.

If you appeal to the court and this does not succeed, it is important to be aware that the court may order you to pay the reasonable costs/expenses the Home Office incurred in defending your appeal. However, it is also true that if your appeal to the court does succeed, the court may order the Home Office to pay your own reasonable costs/expenses arising from the appeal.

If we are unsuccessful, how does this affect me in the future?

A civil penalty notice can have dire consequences for organisations, depending on such factors as the severity of the breach and their ability to pay the fine.

Employers who are found to have violated the rules can be hit with a fine of up to £20,000 for each illegal worker. The Home Office uses a sliding scale to calculate the amount of civil penalty that it levies, accounting for factors such as the employer’s past level of compliance with the law.

Other adverse consequences of a civil penalty notice can include considerable damage to the employer’s professional reputation, damaged business relationships, the loss of that employer’s future ability to hire migrant workers, and greater difficulty with carrying out transactions and maintaining contracts.

Civil penalty notices can also lead to criminal prosecution and – if you do not have significant cash reserves – imperil the entire future of your business. It is therefore imperative to do everything possible to reduce or remove the penalty fine, or to minimise its impact if you are unsuccessful in objecting to or appealing the notice.

It is crucial not to ignore any civil penalty notice that you receive. If you do not object or appeal by the deadlines given in your civil penalty notice or object outcome notices, or fail to pay the penalty in full or comply with payment by instalments, the Home Office will commence action to recover the penalty debt. This could negatively affect your future ability to act as a company director, or to obtain credit.

Why Choose Us For Your Compliance & Civil Penalties?

We Are Dedicated

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Contact our Immigration Solicitors In London on 0208 215 0053 or
via to make your enquiry.

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Compliance & Civil Penalties FAQ's

1. Can I lose a Sponsor Licence if I am fined?

If your organisation holds a sponsor licence and the Home Office finds that you have broken the law in relation to who is entitled to work in the UK, you could be at risk of having your sponsor licence revoked, and a 12-month cooling-off period imposed on any new applications.

This would mean that as an employer, you would no longer be able to Sponsor non-UK Skilled workers. You would also need to wait a minimum of 12 months before you would be permitted to apply for a sponsor licence again.

Being issued with a civil penalty notice due to knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe, that an employee of yours didn’t have the permission to work in the UK also runs the risk of broader criminal sanctions under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, section 21.

You could face a five-year prison sentence if you are found to have knowingly employed illegal workers. Company directors can also face disqualification.

The exact consequences of a civil penalty notice for employers can vary; nonetheless, if you do have your existing sponsor licence revoked, you may have to wait at least 12 months to be able to apply again for a sponsor licence. This would prevent you from employing almost all workers from outside the UK during that 12-month period.

If you are an employer subject to immigration control, and are liable for a civil penalty, this will not be registered with Companies House.

However, the Home Office will record the civil penalty on its systems, and may take account of it when processing any future immigration applications you make. Immigration Enforcement may also publish your business’s details to deter other firms from hiring illegal workers.

For further information about our services in relation to compliance and civil penalties,please call 0208 215 0053 today.

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