Expert team of Barristers and Solicitors with years of experience in providing advice and representation in Road Transport Law.

Truck Impounded in the UK? Make Sure You Know The 4 Ways You Can Get it Back


Having a truck seized in the UK can be a nightmare for any operator. It’s even worse if your business is based outside the UK. Simply finding out why it has been seized, where it’s being kept, and what your options re can be an uphill struggle.


In any truck seizure, the first thing to do is to find out why it has been taken from you in the first place:


The Police, DVSA and HMRC have the power to seize, impound, and even sell a truck if they think it has been used unlawfully. Unlawful use includes committing cabotage offences and driving without an operators’ licence. This is clearly a big problem for European hauliers who carry out cabotage work in the UK.


If you want to get your truck back, you will need to attend a court hearing in the UK. At the hearing you will have to persuade the Traffic Commissioner that it should be returned.  UK law sets out 4 grounds under which the Traffic Commission MUST order the truck to be returned to you. It is up to you to show that one of these 4 grounds applies:


Ground 1: The person using the truck held an operator’s Licence


Ground 2: The truck was not being used unlawfully


Ground 3: the owner did not know of the unlawful use


Ground 4:  the owner knew it was, or had been, used unlawfully and had taken steps to prevent that use and had taken steps to prevent further unlawful use


Originally, Ground 4 was added to help a third-party owner (usually a finance house or hire-company) to apply for the return of a detained truck. It was not intended that it should  be relied upon by a direct owner of the vehicle (i.e.  the operator or haulage company).

However, this has changed following a recent case taken by Barrister Simon Clarke of Smith Bowyer Clarke Road Transport Lawyers. At that hearing, the Upper Tribunal agreed with Simon that Ground 4 should be extended to allow any owner of a detained vehicle to rely upon it. It is no longer limited to just hirers or finance companies Ground 4 is open to all.


This is particularly useful for European Operators who have had their vehicles detained for cabotage offences. If they can show that they had taken steps to prevent that cabotage offence and future offences, they can now apply for the return of the detained vehicle.


If you or someone you know has had a truck seized in the UK, give Smith Bowyer Clarke a call and speak to one of our lawyers today. We can act quickly to find out what has happened to your truck, and attend court to fight for it to be returned to you.

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