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13,000 UK licences obtained via loophole in the law, PHD Legal Advice look at the dangers involved
Recent investigations have taken a look into a loophole which allows foreign drivers licences to be swapped for UK licences illegally causing multiple risks for the public. PHD Legal advice takes a look at the dangerous effects it has.
By: PHD Legal Advice
Recent investigations have taken a look into a loophole which allows foreign drivers licences to be swapped for UK licences illegally causing multiple risks for the public. PHD Legal advice takes a look at how the loophole works and the dangerous effects it has.
In the United Kingdom, anyone outside of the EU, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong can only drive in the UK with a foreign licence for a year, and after this a driving test must be taken to allow them to receive a UK driver’s licence. A loophole has been discovered, where foreign nationals are able to swap their licences without being retested to drive on UK roads. “This is not just a case of having illegal drivers on the road, this is potentially a lot more serious, a driver’s licence is a valid proof of identity for multiple things” says Casper Sibanda, Managing Director of PHD Legal Advice. Once a valid UK licence is obtained, the licence holder is able to drive a car, open a bank account, and is actually able to fly on a plane around the United Kingdom. “If foreign nationals are able to obtain a licence without going through the correct UK legal procedure, they are able to cause harm to the public, whether it is on the road, fraud, using a bank account obtained with an ‘fake’ licence, and the biggest fear is terrorism, as they are actually able to get onto a plane to travel the UK as a driving licence is a valid proof of identity to fly” says Tamim Tasdik Legal and Financial Director of PHD Legal Advice.
So the big question remains, how do these foreign nationals fraudulently obtain a UK licence? “It starts with the countries that are able to swap their licences for a UK licence. In Hong Kong, you can swap your licence for a United Kingdom licence. This is where the loophole begins, agencies are creating a fake Hong Kong address for the foreign national looking for a ‘short cut’ to get a UK licence, and apply for a Hong Kong drivers licence” says Casper Sibanda, managing director of PHD legal advice. “Within two weeks, they have a Hong Kong driver’s licence, and from there all it takes is a quick form to the DVLA requesting a swap, and there you have it, a foreign national with a UK driving licence without a driving test being retaken”. A foreign national can obtain this swap for around £600, in just two weeks, a miniscule amount compared to driving lessons, tests and additional costs that come with obtaining a UK licence, and so for many foreign nationals, an easy way out.
The loophole has led to serious concern. Over 13,000 licences from Hong Kong were swapped for UK licences in 2010, although a majority of these licences were legitimate, it still leaves the worry of how many were not legitimate. “It is certain that out of the 13,000 licences from Hong Kong in 2010 that some were fraudulent, which is extremely worrying knowing that there are illegal driver’s in the UK, let alone the more serious worries such as fraud and terrorism” says Tamim Tasdik, Legal and Finance director at PHD Legal advice.
This loophole is still under investigation, changes in the law will soon be coming into action, meaning that any drivers, from taxi drivers to fleets will need to be checked before being allowed to drive in the UK. This will massively reduce the risk of foreign nationals obtaining UK licences illegally. Until then, it is left to the investigation to establish how to close the loophole with stricter checking when obtaining a licence.