Gora 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 proportionate.
Held: The present procedure does not involve the criminal courts and the absence of any criminal sanction, even modest, is a factor. The procedure by way of an application to restore goods can be described as determination of a criminal charge. The concepts of seizure and detention had long been distinguished in English law: ‘where liability to forfeiture has been determined by a court in condemnation proceedings, ‘there is no further room for fact finding by the Tribunal’ and it has no jurisdiction . . ‘Jurisdiction to decide whether any thing forfeited is to be restored under section 152(b) is with the Tribunal. The jurisdiction in condemnation proceedings is, by virtue of Schedule 3, with the courts. If the deeming provision in paragraph 5 of the Schedule operates, the thing in question shall be deemed to have been duly condemned as forfeited. The effect of this deeming provision is to provide that the thing is to be treated as forfeited.

Pill, Chadwick, Longmore LJJ
[2003] EWCA Civ 525, Times 23-Apr-2003, [2004] QB 93
European Convention on Human Rights 6, Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 Sch3 para5, Human Rights Act 1998 Sch 1 Pt I art 6(1) Pt II, art 1
England and Wales
CitedSecretary of State for the Home Department v International Transport Roth Gmbh and others CA 22-Feb-2002
The Appellant had introduced a system of fining lorry drivers returning to the UK with illegal immigrants hiding away in their trucks. The rules had been found to be in breach of European law and an interference with their human rights. The . .
CitedAGOSI v The United Kingdom ECHR 24-Oct-1986
Krugerrand coins were seized by the Commissioners and the claimant was unsuccessful in obtaining their restoration under what is now section 152(b) of the 1979 Act. It was argued that the request for restoration of the coins amounted to a . .
CitedAir Canada v The United Kingdom ECHR 5-May-1995
Hudoc No violation of P1-1; No violation of Art. 6-1
An aeroplane was seized as liable to forfeiture pursuant to section 141(1) of the 1979 Act. It was restored on payment of a penalty of andpound;50,000. . .
CitedLauko v Slovakia ECHR 2-Sep-1998
The applicant was fined under the domestic Minor Offences Act for accusing his neighbours, without justification, of causing a nuisance. The government relied on the modesty of the punishment capable of being imposed and the fact that the offence . .
CitedAP MP and TP v Switzerland ECHR 29-Aug-1997
Hudoc Judgment (Merits and just satisfaction) Violation of Art. 6-2; Not necessary to examine Art. 6-1; Not necessary to examine Art. 6-3; Costs and expenses award – Convention proceedings
Fines were imposed . .
CitedButler v United Kingdom ECHR 27-Jun-2002
A substantial confiscation order was made with respect to money seized from the applicant on the ground that customs officers believed the money was directly or indirectly the proceeds of drugs trafficking and/or was intended for use in drug . .
CitedGoldsmith 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 . .
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 . .
CitedJacobsohn v Blake and Compton 13-Jan-1843
Custom-house officers took possession of goods landed by the plaintiff for the purpose of examination and detained them upon a misapprehension that they were prohibited and liable to forfeiture. In an action for trespass, the defence was that, there . .
CitedCommissioners of Customs and Excise v Venn and Others QBD 11-Dec-2001
The concept of forfeiture in the Act was dependent upon the seizure of goods. The Act also made a distinction between the initial detention of goods and formal seizure. The six months time limit under the Magistrates Courts Act was calculated from . .

Cited by:
CitedCommissioners of Customs and Excise v Dickinson ChD 15-Oct-2003
The applicant had returned to England with a quantity of goods which the Customs and Excise deemed were not for his personal use. His car was seized, but ordered to be restored by the VAT and Duties Tribunal.
Held: There was now a two track . .
ObiterGascoyne v Customs and Excise and Another CA 28-Jul-2004
The Commissioners had found what they considered to be an excess of dutiable goods brought into the country by the tax payer, and had forfeited the car. The court considered the effect of the Gora case.
Held: The difficult statements in Gora . .
CitedGolobiewska v Commissioners of Customs and excise CA 6-May-2005
The owner of a motor vehicle which had been seized by Customs applied to have it restored.
Held: the 1994 Act placed the burden on the applicant to establish that she was entitled to the return of her car, but the standard of proof was the . .
CitedCheckprice (UK) Ltd (In Administration) v HM Revenue and Customs Admn 31-Mar-2010
The claimant sought damages having been forced into liquidation after the defendant, it said, wrongfully seized its alcohol goods. Sales J had already held that the reasonable time had expired.
Held: Considering a claim for conversion of the . .
CitedRevenue and Customs v Jones and Another CA 18-Jul-2011
HMRC appealed against an order for the return to the owner of goods seized under the 1979 Act. The respondents imported tobacco and alcohol which was seized. They said it had been for personal use. HMRC now said that the Tribunal’s jurisdiction to . .
CitedEastenders Cash and Carry Plc and Another v Revenue and Customs Admn 4-Nov-2010
Applications for judicial review in relation to alcoholic goods detained by the Defendants on grounds of a suspicion that duty may not have been paid in respect of them.
Sales J said: ‘In my view, there is a clear reason why Parliament wished . .
CitedEastenders Cash and Carry Plc and Others, Regina (on The Application of) v Revenue and Customs SC 11-Jun-2014
Alcoholic drinks had been seized by the respondents pending further enquiries with a view to a possible forfeiture, then held and returned but only under court order. The company had complained that the detention of the goods was unlawful. The . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Customs and Excise, Crime, Human Rights

Leading Case

Updated: 11 November 2021; Ref: scu.180739