Goldsmith and Another v Commissioners of Customs and Excise: QBD 7 Jun 2001

The applicants were stopped after bringing into the country 26 kilos of tobacco, without declaring it. The customs applied for an order condemning the tobacco. The applicants argued that the proceedings were, in effect, criminal proceedings, and that, therefore, the reversal of the burden of proof was a breach of their right to a fair trial.
Held: The Act was clear that these were civil proceedings, and the consequences and associations of the proceedings did not have the characteristics of criminal proceedings, and therefore the reversal of the burden of proof was appropriate. The court considered whether forfeiture proceedings are criminal. Full weight must be given to the consequence of goods being forfeited, but reference also made to the fact that the legislation categorises the proceedings as civil, and that none of the usual consequences of a criminal conviction follow from condemnation and forfeiture proceedings. There is no conviction or finding of guilt. Under domestic law the person concerned is not treated as having a conviction. The person concerned is not subject to any other penalty, apart from the consequences of the forfeiture and loss of the goods.


Lord Woolf CJ


Gazette 07-Jun-2001, Times 12-Jun-2001, [2001] 1 WLR 1673


Excise Duties (Personal Reliefs) Order 1992 (1992 No 3155), Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 3, European Convention on Human Rights 6.1

Cited by:

CitedRegina (Mudie and Another) v Dover Magistrates’ Court and Another CA 4-Feb-2003
The applicants wished to challenge the confiscation of their goods by the Commissioners of Customs and Excise on their return to Dover. They appealed the refusal of Legal Aid.
Held: The Convention guaranteed the right to legal assistance for . .
CitedGora and others v Commissioners of Customs and Excise and others CA 11-Apr-2003
The appellants challenged decisions of the VAT and Duties Tribunal after seizure of their goods, and in particular whether the cases had been criminal or civil cases and following Roth, whether the respondent’s policy had been lawful and . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights, Customs and Excise

Updated: 08 April 2022; Ref: scu.80901