We've just heard here about how HMRC/UKBA treat two people. One has legally bought Duty paid tobacco and the other has illegal drugs. So far, the person with the drugs is getting the protection and rights afforded to him but the person with the tobacco is getting no such thing. What happens next? ... let's see.
The person carrying tobacco
This person (shopper) has had his legally bought tobacco for personal use seized by UKBA/HMRC although he's done nothing wrong other than not being prepared for the tactics used by UKBA/HMRC. His tobacco has been seized and he has now been issued with a C156 Seizure Notice which gives him 1 calendar month to appeal although the UKBA/HMRC have also tried to intimidate him into not appealing by telling him he will lose and will be liable for costs in the region of £2500.(Their site says £1500 but they even exaggerate that) as well as being liable for his own solicitors costs.)
(Note:- UKBA/HMRC say they do this to be 'helpful' so as not to afford the aggrieved shopper further undue hardship! Yeah right! Pity they aren't so helpful as to advise legitimate shoppers what to do to avoid seizure!)
So, the person now has this C156 that lists the amount and description of his goods seized. It should also tell him where to appeal to although this is sometimes missing. :) He's already been asked to read and sign the UKBA/HMRC officers notebook stating that the contents are a truthful and factual account of the interview.. Fortunately he has refused to do this and has only signed his name. This at least guards against anything being added later by the officer ... well, sort of. The shopper will not get a copy of this notebook! When our shopper finally leaves the officer will then write in this notebook the reasons for seizure ... which of course our shopper has not read!
Once our shopper gets home he begins to address his Appeal Against Seizure. He then realises that he doesn't specifically know why his goods have been seized. At the time of the seizure all he was told was that the officer believed they were for a commercial purpose and that was it! So he contacts UKBA/HMRC (not an easy task) and asks for a copy of the officers notebook. He is told that he will have to submit a Subject Access Request (SAR) , a cheque for £10 and it will take 40 days.
Except he doesn't have 40 days does he? He only has 1 calendar month ... at best 31 days! (even Julie Wiggs over at JMWCC has commented on this. See here. )
So now he has to put in an Appeal Against Seizure and ask for a review but is unable to address the specific reasons for the seizure of his goods because he doesn't know them and by the time he does it will be too damn late! All he can do is try and guess what the reasons are from his memory of the incident. He now wishes he had listened to the advice given by such as ourselves and had at least taken and used a recording device to record the whole incident.
Dejectedly, he completes his Appeal Against Seizure as best he can. Once it is finished, he goes and posts it to UKBA/HMRC Appeals Team. He is not feeling good about this but reflects things could've been worse ... he could've been in his new £20k car and had that seized too!
Wonder how the person with the drugs is getting on? ... let's see shall we?
The person carrying drugs
Well, he's doing fine actually. He's been released on bail. His free solicitor is handling everything. The solicitor has the full interview on tape, has requested the evidence against his client and will receive it shortly. In the meantime the Crown Prosecution Service will review the case against our person carrying drugs and see if there is enough evidence in their opinion to prosecute.
Part 3 to follow
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- **Appeals Against Seizure ... The Process**