Customs & Excise
Customs officers have the right to seize any items in the UK if either:
*the excised goods (such as tobacco or alcohol) duty has not been paid
*the items are restricted or banned in the UK
*if customs laws or regulations have been broken
The Boarder Force deals with seizure in the UK. If your items are seized when you are present, the reason for the seizure must be explained to you and you will receive a Seizure Information Notice which is a list of the items which have been seized. If you are not present then you will receive a Notice of Seizure through the post which gives you the following information : who carried out the seizure, the reason and legal grounds for which they carried out the seizure and a list of all the items that have been seized.
You then have various options based upon whether you believe the seizure was just and lawful. If so, you may wish to do nothing and the items will be disposed off.
However, if you do not believe the seizure was correct then you can challenge it. You can challenge the legality of the seizure by sending a Notice of Claim in writing to HM Revenue & Customs, this should include: your name and address, any customs reference you have been given and the reason for which you believe customs were wrong to seize your items. You must send this to ensure it is received by HMRC within one month of the seizure because after this month they can dispose of the items by law.
Whether you believe the seizure was correct or not you can still write to HMRC asking for your items to be returned, this is known as restoration. In your letter you should include: your name and address, any customs reference, any proof of ownership for the items (eg. Receipts) and the reason for which you think the items should be given back to you. If they decide not to return your items to you, you can then ask for the decision to be reviewed.
We have experience in seizure and prosecutions, please contact us for further assistance.