Robert Keen’s Column


BIFAlink is the official magazine of the British International Freight Association Redfern House, Browells Lane, Feltham TW13 7EP Tel: 020 8844 2266 Web site: E-mail: (A company limited by guarantee. Registered in England: 391973. VAT Registration: 216476363)

Director General Robert Keen Executive Director Robert Windsor Executive Director Spencer Stevenson Policy & Compliance Advisor Pawel Jarza Policy & Compliance Advisor David Stroud Training Development Manager Carl Hobbis Editorial Co-ordinator Sharon Hammond

Published by Park Lane Publishing Contributors Robert Keen, Robert Windsor, Pawel Jarza, David Stroud, Spencer Stevenson, Carl Hobbis, Sharon Hammond

Regional Consultants to BIFA Scotland and the Borders Len Hobbs: Northern Ireland Carson McMullan: Midlands and the North Paul Young: London West and the South West Mike Jones: Anglia, London East and the South East Paul Newman:

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Please be advised that BIFA DOES NOT OFFER LEGAL ADVICE. BIFA is not a law firm and the authors of this publication are not legally qualified and do not have any legal training. The guidance and assistance set out herein are based on BIFA’s own experience with the issues concerned and should not be in any circumstances regarded or relied upon as legal advice. It is strongly recommended that anyone considering further action based on the information contained in this publication should seek the advice of a qualified professional.

Focusing on liens in lockdown

Last month we wrote a detailed article featuring liens, following the many enquiries we have received on this topic since lockdown. To further assist BIFA Members, we return to the subject again this month in the centre pages. We have put together a question and answer article featuring the most frequently asked lien questions that we hope you will find both interesting and useful. Whilst some BIFA Members will look after a lien on their own, a solicitor is needed at times and the cost can often be added to the amount you are holding the goods for. In late May we surveyed BIFA Members about preparedness for 1 January 2021, and

the imposition of border declarations for goods arriving from the EU. The results of the survey are on page 7. BIFA has been calling in the press for the Brexit transition period

to be extended recently and whilst this has not happened there have been phased facilitations announced. Whilst I understand the views of individuals who tell me the UK should “just get on with it”, our policies are given to us by BIFA Members who attend our regional or interest groups such as Customs, Road, Maritime or Air. When I issue a press statement, I am reflecting a mandate from BIFA Members and the request for a transition period extension was backed up by the survey results. In normal times if you want to contribute to BIFA policy I would direct you to our regional meetings. Although these are suspended at present you can always contact our Policy and Compliance team on issues that concern you. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is compiling a list of freight forwarders that offer Customs clearance

services. This is aimed at providing assistance to businesses currently moving goods to and from the EU that will need to make declarations from 1 January 2021. No doubt, many of you would like to be added and if HMRC would allow it we would simply give them a list of BIFA Members from our database, but they will only accept an application direct from the trading company. Details are on our website in the news section, but it is just as easy to search the site using the snappy wording “list of customs agents and fast parcel operators from 1 January 2021”. Of great personal disappointment to me is the effect that the coronavirus pandemic has had on the training

development undertaken by BIFA, disrupting courses for many, mainly young, forwarders. In less than four years we have expanded BIFA training from offering a few courses a year to multiple sessions, with an increase in both trainers and the delivery style. This, together with the development of a freight forwarder apprenticeship and the creation (with partners Strong & Herd and the Institute of Export) of our online Treasury grant-assisted Customs declaration course, had inspired a networking group of over 400 young professionals in the UK regions. Now, our training rooms are empty and its difficult to envisage classroom training for a considerable time to come. However, our training team is not taking this setback lying down. Over the last few weeks, the training courses have been split down into ‘bite size’ topics that are delivered in a short time via Zoom. Initial feedback has been encouraging, so do not think that because classroom training is suspended you cannot build on your staff skills. See page 11 for more information, or go to and click on the training tab where you will see details of the live training under Freight Forwarding and Customs Procedures. On the back of the new virtual meeting places that we are all now inhabiting via Zoom, WebEx or Teams we

have relaunched the Young Forwarder Network (YFN) and our recent ‘Bake Off’ was a great success, keeping up the spirits and collaboration between the next generation of freight forwarders. Building on this, our virtual tour of DP World London Gateway had the largest number of participants ever for a YFN meeting, counting 71 ‘attendees’. One of the sad tasks I undertake is to remember friends of the Association that have passed away and there

are obituaries on page 7 to honour Eric Gordon and Chris Serkis. Eric was a great Institute of Freight Forwarders stalwart who reached the age of 90. Chris was a lively figure at BIFA Gatwick meetings but passed away far too young aged 71.

Robert Keen Director General

July 2020


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