Section 13


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Criminal liability

This section outlines the criminal offence of entering into arrangements with an illegal gangmaster for the supply of workers, which is punishable by up to 51 weeks’ imprisonment (six months in Scotland or Northern Ireland) and/or a fine.


For this offence the statute provides a defence of carrying out reasonable due diligence to determine whether the gangmaster in question is licensed.

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Section 13. Offences: entering into arrangements with gangmasters

(1)A person commits an offence if—

(a) he enters into arrangements under which a person (“the gangmaster”) supplies him with workers or services, and

(b) the gangmaster in supplying the workers or services contravenes section 6 (prohibition of unlicensed activities).

(2)In proceedings against a person for an offence under subsection (1) it is a defence for him to prove that he—

(a)took all reasonable steps to satisfy himself that the gangmaster was acting under the authority of a valid licence, and

(b)did not know, and had no reasonable grounds for suspecting that the gangmaster was not the holder of a valid licence.

(3) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision as to what constitutes “reasonable steps” for the purposes of subsection (2)(a).

(4) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) is liable—

(a) on summary conviction in England and Wales, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 51 weeks, or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both,

(b)on summary conviction in Scotland or Northern Ireland, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both. In relation to an offence committed before the commencement of section 281(5) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (c. 44), for “51 weeks” in paragraph (a) substitute “ six months ”.

Law / United Kingdom / Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004

This Act establishes the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (“GLA”) and gives it power to issue licences to agencies in relation to the supply or use of workers for agricultural work, gathering wild creatures or plants, harvesting from fish farms and certain food process and packaging operations. Licensed gangmasters in these sectors are required to adhere to certain labour law standards, including protections against forced labour.  Workers are still entitled to the protection of the Act even if they do not have leave to remain in the UK (s. 26(2).

The Act makes it an offence to supply workers in these sectors without a licence and gives the GLA power to investigate non-compliance with the labour law standards and the ability to revoke licences where appropriate.

The Act specifically applies to “bodies corporate” (s. 20), and so covers both corporate as well as individual gangmasters. The Act applies to work carried out in the UK or in the UK’s territorial sea, but importantly is not restricted to gangmasters who are situated in the UK (s. 5(3)), so in this respect has limited extraterritorial scope in that gangmasters cannot avoid the application of the Act simply by moving themselves or their company overseas.