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Amber Services Europe Ltd and Others v The Director of Border Revenue

Lloyd's Law Reporter Financial Crime

Amber Services Europe Ltd and Others v The Director of Border Revenue

[2015] EWHC 3665 (Admin), Queen's Bench Division (Administrative Court), Lord Justice McCombe and Mr Justice Ouseley, 26 November; 16 December 2015

Excise duty - Revenue - Customs & Excise - Condemnation proceedings - Whether conviction of offence prerequisite for forfeiture - Importation - Customs & Excise Management Act 1979

The appellants (separately) had been involved in the importation of unprocessed tobacco leaf seized by the UK Border Force under section 139 of the Customs & Excise Management Act 1979 (CEMA). The Border Force had seized the raw tobacco and sought forfeiture under section 139(6) of and Schedule 3 to CEMA. No one was convicted for any offence in connection with the importation. At condemnation proceedings brought by the Director of Border Revenue, the District Judge ordered the forfeiture of the raw tobacco leaf on the grounds that it was liable to forfeiture in accordance with section 170B(2) because a person was guilty of an offence of taking preparatory steps with a view to evading excise duty, contrary to section 170B(1). The appellants challenged the forfeiture and argued that the power to order forfeiture pursuant to section 170B(2) depended upon a conviction for an offence under section 170B(1).

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