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Seizures by UK Border Force and HMRC

Property seizures by UK border force and HMRC can be frustrating and inconvenient, particularly where you believe such a seizure to be disproportional or unlawful. Under these circumstances, you can instruct us to challenge the decision on your behalf.

We can act for you in respect of seeking restoration or in the alternative at any condemnation proceeding with a view to having your property returned to you following a formal notice of claim.

Our solicitors at Nelson Guest have supported many clients to rightfully reclaim items that were seized. We offer a professional and practical approach and pride ourselves on resolving these cases both quickly and efficiently.

These matters need to be dealt with expediently, given that challenges must be brought within a one-month time period. Customs seizures can include property such as.

  • Jewellery
  • Shipping containers containing goods to be sold commercially
  • Vehicles
  • Hand luggage
  • Confectionary
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco

Get in touch with our HMRC border force and seizures solicitors

If you need legal support with seizures by UK Border Force and HMRC or contact our expert solicitors in London today to set up your free 10-minute initial consultation. Call 020 8309 5010 | Ask us a Question | Email us

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What happens if my goods are seized by HMRC?

If your goods are seized by HMRC, you will be provided with a customs seizure letter. The notice will be physically handed to you if you are present when your goods are seized. If you are not present, you’ll receive a seizure notice by post.

The documentation will provide details about why your property was seized and provide contact information for HMRC. If your goods were seized by UK Border Force, you’ll instead be given these contact details.

Why has HMRC sent me a notice 12A?

If your property has been seized, you’ll receive a Notice 12A which gives information about what you can do next. The notice provides details about why your items have been seized and how you might be able to claim them back. A Notice 12A applies to the seizure of both goods and vehicles.

How can I challenge HMRC or UK border force's legal right to seize my goods?

If your property has been seized by UK Border Force or HMRC, you have several options to challenge the decision.

  1. Notice of Claim: You can complete and send a notice of claim to HMRC or UK Border Force. Using this notice, you can claim that the seizing of the item was not legal.
  2. Restoration letter: You can write to Border Force or HMRC and request that your item be restored, while accepting that it was legally seized.
  3. Use both options: If you prefer, you ask for the item to be returned immediately, while also claiming that it was seized illegally.

What is the time limit for challenging the seizure of my property?

If your goods have been seized and you wish to claim them back, Border Force or HMRC must receive your notice of claim letter within one month from the date of seizure. Unless the appropriate organisation receives your letter within the time frame, you will not be eligible to dispute the lawfulness of the seizure.

Failing to meet the given time frames means that ownership of the property will be transferred to the body that seized it, with no further options to appeal or challenge the seizure.

Why might HMRC or Border Control seize goods?

Seizures by UK Border Force and HMRC are common if the duty hasn’t been paid or if the items are banned or restricted in the UK. Items may be seized if regulations or customs laws have been broken. Your goods might also be seized under the following circumstances:

  • The items inside the package were not described correctly.
  • The items are the profits of or connected to a crime.

What information should you include in the notice of claim?

If you are sending a notice of claim, you’ll need to include the following details. (The same details should be included if you choose to send a restoration letter):

  • Information about the item(s) you would like restored, for instance, brand, colour, size etc.
  • The reference number you were given when the item was seized.
  • Any documentation you have to prove ownership of the item.
  • A statement which describes why you should receive the items back.
  • Any reasons you feel that the seizure was illegal.

How our solicitors can help

Challenging the legality of a seizure

At Nelson Guest solicitors, we can have supported many clients to challenge the legality of customs seizures, with successful results. We can support you in correctly completing the relevant documentation within the legal time frames.

When an individual disputes the lawfulness of a seizure, there will be a court hearing to discuss the case. Our HMRC border force and seizures solicitors can assist individuals throughout the proceedings. Depending on the situation, we may be able to prove that the goods were not restricted or that the correct duty was paid.

If the Court believe that the items were lawfully seized, the individual may not be able to claim them back. However, if the Court is convinced by the argument, there’s every chance that your goods will be restored. For more legal information about seizures by UK border force and HMRC, get in touch with our specialist solicitors at Nelson Guest & Partners.

Assistance with notice of claim or restoration letter

Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may need to submit a notice of claim form, a restoration letter, or both to Border Force or HMRC. If you need assistance in completing these documents or general advice about reclaiming your goods, our expert solicitors can support you.

We appreciate that it can be confusing and irritating if your property is seized, all the more so if you’ve lost expensive items or if you believe that the seizure lacked validity.

Criminal defence support

If border force believe that you are involved in a crime due to the goods that you are attempting to import, you’ll need to seek legal assistance. In these rare circumstances, our solicitors can review your case, provide advice, and represent you in any necessary proceedings.

Depending on the circumstances, customs may also seize money or items under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 or the Proceeds of Crime Act 2022. If you receive a letter that indicates either of these occurrences, our lawyers can guide you through the next steps.

It can be incredibly stressful to be accused of committing a crime but rest assured, we have ample expertise and experience in supporting clients to resolve such matters.

Get in touch with our HMRC border force seizures solicitors

If you need legal support with seizures by UK Border force and HMRC, contact our specialist solicitors in London today to set up your free 10-minute initial consultation. Call 020 8309 5010 | Ask us a Question | Email us