UK Department for International Trade releases export control enforcement data for 2021 | Hogan Lovells


[co-authors: Iris Karaman, and Simi Malhi]

Between March and November 2021, HMRC imposed composite penalties relating to unlicensed exports of dual-use goods, military goods and related activities controlled by the Export Control Order 2008 with settlements totaling £199,192.22.

The Joint Export Control Unit and the Department for International Trade revealed in a notice to exporters that HMRC had received settlements of between £1,000 and £54,000. The financial penalties were imposed on exporters in 10 settlement actions for unlicensed exports or breach of license conditions relating to dual-use goods, military goods and related activities controlled by the export control.

Although the total annual export control fines for 2021 were significantly lower than the settlements received by HMRC in 2020 (which amounted to £700,368.01), this could be the result of the COVID-19 pandemic . Figures from the past two years demonstrate that HMRC has used its discretion to impose civil monetary penalties instead of criminal prosecutions for breaches of UK export control laws.

Next steps

All UK importers should take the latest Notice to Exporters as a reminder of HMRC’s powers in the event of breaches of UK export control laws. Alongside HMRC’s ability to impose monetary penalties, HMRC can also impose criminal fines or imprisonment. Given HMRC’s active role as enforcers of UK export control laws, companies doing business in the UK should assess their current export licenses to ensure they are fit for their purpose and take appropriate due diligence to enable them to remain compliant.

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