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09-12-2014 12:13 pm  #1


Cigarettes detained

Hello. First I'd like to thank you all for what you are doign through this forum. 
Now here is my story. I was travelling with family through Dover last month and hmrc detained 20 packs (4000 cigarettes). These were legally purchased in EU member state and intended only for our own use which I have clearly stated to the officer. Unfortunatelly I could not attend an interview as we were on boarder line to catch next ferry. Officer instructed me to call number from booklet to arrange and attend interview within 30 days. I've signed also note in notebook that 4000 cigarettes are being detained... (I would facepalm myself for doing this after reading content of N2D forum)
I've called number provided (not manned) and left message with request for call back 3 times already and did not hear anything back yet. 30 day deadline is passing by tomorrow which means the goods will be seized. I don't really know what to do now and will be much appreciate for ay help.

In addition. Exactly 2 years ago in Dover we were stopped by hmrc and officer asked questions about how often I travel, if I'm carrying any tabacco etc. I've admitted we have cigarretes and they are intended for our own use (including gift for my brother hence they were two different brands) I could not specify the amount of goods, so I asked officer if I can unload them myself from boot so I will give no false statements as I don't have anything to hide. I did that and right after I finished the same officer had brief look into car as well. I was then interviewed. After first interview with male officer (same who ask questions and looked into the car) I've signed notebook (I know...) and was told by him to load the goods back into car and I'm ok to go. In half way of packing back all our belongings I was asked to stop and move away from car by another officer. The car was then searched again by 4 hmrc employees and three more packs were found. I've left them in transparent tote just behind rear passanger headrest and they were clearly visible through the back window of our saloon car. I simply forgot about them... I was then interviewed again, this time however by mad female officer. I told her nothing different I told to her predecessor. However she forced me to sign statement that all cigarettes belong to me (not to me AND my wife)
The overall outcome of it was: the car seized, the cigarettes seized, the car restored free of charge immediately (possibly due our children were very youg at the time and i guess first officer had a spark of humanity)
We felt realy depressed after all of that happend, not because we've lost our hard earned money but because of the way we were treated and called smugglers (indirectly but still) nor we never, ever did anything againts the law.

Back then I had no idea about this forum and I felt powerless, but now I'm angry as hell and will not give up.

Iteresting part is that last year ( not even a year after 46 packs were seized) we've had no problems with hmrc in Dover. Very likely due we travelled in different car.

Please excuse my writing, English is not my first language.

 

09-12-2014 12:37 pm  #2


Re: Cigarettes detained

Hi Seb

Firstly are you UK resident, do you have a UK address?

You have 1 month from the date of seizure to put in an appeal. That is if your seizure was on 11th November you have until 11th December for them to receive it. Ignore the interview for now your NOC is more important and needs to be done now.

Just a basic NOC will do for now for quickness. If your month expires tomorrow I would send it special delivery.
Expensive but guaranteed nextday. I would also fax a copy to NPSU.

You will need to do this immediately if you're running out of time.


 


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09-12-2014 12:58 pm  #3


Re: Cigarettes detained

Thank you eezyrider for a prompt reply. I'm resident of Ireland (ROI)

To clarify: The goods have not been seized yet. There is a note in Notice of Goods Detained: "These goods will be deemed seized after 30 days. You do not have control for this period"

I did not have an interview this time as I was in rush to catch ferry from Wales to Ireland. That's why hmrc did not seize my property. However they will do that day after tomorrow if I will not attend an interview, which is quite challenging to arrange due to not being able to contact anybody under number provided in a booklet... Hope this explains the matter better.

Last edited by seb1k (09-12-2014 1:10 pm)

     Thread Starter
 

09-12-2014 1:25 pm  #4


Re: Cigarettes detained

Strictly speaking if you are not a UK resident, there is no requirement within the rules for 'customs' to deal with you other than through a UK based solicitor. There has been some debate as to whether or not this complies with EU regs, however arguing this point I suspect could be a long and expensive process-and that is before you even get to discuss the seizure!

Your difficulty re phones at Dover is not unusual. They rarely answer the phone or recorded messages. Initially I would suggest an email complaint to BF as per link.
[url=https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/border-force/about/complaints-procedure  We often find that the quickest response for anything is by fax also, if possible.As regards your present situation the goods are then under detention. I believe you can still appeal the detention. Alternatively wait until you receive the seizure paperwork.Before we start advising about seizure, I think you need to resolve the question of whether customs are going to deal with you.Apologies for the usual gremlins in the text!]https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/border-force/about/complaints-procedure

  We often find that the quickest response for anything is by fax also, if possible.

As regards your present situation the goods are then under detention. I believe you can still appeal the detention. Alternatively wait until you receive the seizure paperwork.
Before we start advising about seizure, I think you need to resolve the question of whether customs are going to deal with you.

Apologies for the usual gremlins in the text!
[/url]


 


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09-12-2014 1:54 pm  #5


Re: Cigarettes detained

they can do an interveiw via phone,if you ever get through, search for some more contact numbers in dover,and try and get through to someone.


Please ensure you do not divulge any information which could identify you as Border Force will use your posts here as evidence against you in court.
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09-12-2014 3:49 pm  #6


Re: Cigarettes detained

I will appeal the detention for sure. Just what should I fax to border force? Statement of truth? Receipt?

I can't find any number to border force in Dover. The only number I found is ‪+441304206789‬ but this brought me only to hm customs and excise in Dover, they will not deal with me - tried already.

I've recorded 5 messages on the answerphone by far (03000688703) , first one on Friday 5th of December, but heard nothing back. It's written in a booklet that smeone will get back to me within one working day...

 

Last edited by seb1k (09-12-2014 4:31 pm)

     Thread Starter
 

09-12-2014 4:21 pm  #7


Re: Cigarettes detained

keep a record of phone calls and bills to prove you made every effort to resolve this.


Please ensure you do not divulge any information which could identify you as Border Force will use your posts here as evidence against you in court.
Better to live one day as a lion than a thousand days as a sheep'

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09-12-2014 7:45 pm  #8


Re: Cigarettes detained

If the goods are seized in your absence they must, by law, issue you with a formal notice of seizure. There is not, to my knowledge, any such thing as a "deemed seizure".

 

09-12-2014 9:35 pm  #9


Re: Cigarettes detained

"These goods will be deemed seized after 30 days. You do not have control for this period"
This is exactly what is written in Notice of Goods Detained I've received on 11th Nov.
I will fax SOT and proof of purchase tomorrow to Post Seizure Unit. Although I'm not sure if they will even  deal with me for reason eezyrider stated.

     Thread Starter
 

09-12-2014 10:40 pm  #10


Re: Cigarettes detained

My interpretation would be deemed as in assumed ......if no further action is taken within the 30 days. Your goods are in detention until they are seized. CEMA was amended to tighten up the detention ruling earlier this year after HMRC lost a case.

Personally I would still complain to BF that they are not answering the phone at Dover and keep a copy. It will be something to back up your case if it progresses.

Warrior's point about the telephone interview is a valid point

I'm not sure if the UK residents proviso applies to the restoration procedure although I believe it does. I think Turbulentupstart has a wider knowledge of that procedure? It may be an option to pursue that course. In any case I would put in an appeal when you get the notice of seizure and see if it progresses.

Please let us know how you get on.
 


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10-12-2014 12:20 pm  #11


Re: Cigarettes detained

I'm about to fax following to Plymouth. Please let me know if I should rework this at any point. Thank you in advance.

To whom it may concern,
I, seb1k, d.o.b. 1. 1 .1901 ID number 123 , traveled with family (beautiful wife, n children) from Ireland to ..... on the 23rd October, Irish Ferries ref  (Rosslare - Pembroke) P&O ref  (Dover - Calais). I returned to Ireland from on the 11th November, ref numbers as above.  I purchased 20 cartons (4000) of Marlboro Light on this trip for my own personal use and they were not held for a commercial purpose. I am not a revenue trader. These purchases were all EU Duty Paid as per regulations. There are NO limits for personal use EU Directive 2008/118/EC

3960 cigarettes were deteined by Border Force officer 14.... despite I told truth what amount of goods I'm carrying (20 cartons) and clearly stated that I purchased them with my own money, they are intended for my own personal use and not held for a commercial purpose. I refused to be interviewed at the time for 2 reasons: 
[list=1]
[*]I provide all information to the Boarder Force Officer as above
[*]It was almost 9:00 and I was in rush to catch Ferry ref as above from Pembroke to Rosslare which was departing at 14:45 (distance I had to drive was 520Km) In case I would miss that ferry, we all would have to wait 12 hours for next one and pay for new tickets.
[/list]
 Officer 14.... deteined my legally purchased goods intended for personal use and NOT for a commercial purpose, and instructed me to call HMRC Post Seizure Unit 03000588703 to arrange an interview within 30 days. I've made, as for now (10th December) 6 attempts to arrange this interview, first on Friday 05th December, then on Monday 8th December, Tuesday 9th December and Wednesday 10th December. I've recorded 6 messages (including my name, phone number and reason I'm calling) on answerphone but despite statement that “someone will get back to you within one working day” in Notice 12A no contact has been made with me. All the calls are shown in my phone bill. I have the receipts for the above purchases. I saved a great deal of money and had a nice break in .....

I was previously in ..... last year in summer and took very same route. I purchased 26 cartons (5200) of Marlboro Light for my own personal use and did not held for a commercial purpose. The supply last us (me and my wife) for about 5 months.
I state again that I purchased the cigarettes for my own personal use and they are not held for a commercial purpose and neither am I a revenue trader. 
[list=1]
[*]I conformed to EU Directive/2008/118/EC
[*]The cigarettes/tobacco are for my own personal use (incl occasional gifts).
[*]I purchased them with my own money (receipts available on request)
[*]They are not held for a commercial purpose.
[*]I am not a revenue trader.
[*]I transported the goods myself.
[/list]
 I have now given all the information you require (EU Directive 2008/118/EC) that shows my legally purchased EU duty paid cigarettes are for personal use only and not held for a commercial purpose.Now please let me proceed with my legally purchased EU duty paid goods without any further let or hindrance.Copy of this statement to be retained by myself Yours sincerely
seb1k
 

     Thread Starter
 

10-12-2014 3:09 pm  #12


Re: Cigarettes detained

Looks good to me.

Have you got a relative or associate in the UK you can use as an agent?
 


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10-12-2014 3:51 pm  #13


Re: Cigarettes detained

Unfortunately I haven't got any relatives or friends which could act as an agent in my name.
Anyhow, I've sent fax to Plymouth and complaint to Border Force Complaints and Correspondence Team. I will post the outcome of both as soon I receive it.

     Thread Starter
 

10-12-2014 7:24 pm  #14


Re: Cigarettes detained

I suspect the goons have confused the terms "deemed seizure" and "deemed forfeiture". As most of us know, if goods are seized you have 30 days to issue a notice of claim. I am not aware of any statutory time limit in respect of detention.

Eezyrider is correct in saying that the CEMA stipulates that non-Uk residents most appoint a solicitor to represent them in condemnation proceedings. However the tribunal held in Wnek v The Director of Border Revenue  that this requirement was in breach of EU law. Assuming the tribunal is correct, as regards the magistrates court you must either appear in person or appoint a solicitor to represent you. This does not apply to tribunal proceedings where you may represent yourself, or request that proceedings are held in your absence,  or nominate any other person to represent you (not necessarily a solicitor).

Therefore, in your position you must issue a NOC requesting condemnation proceedings and also request restoration and be prepared to appeal to a tribunal in case they reject your NOC. However, it seems to me that you cannot do either of these things until you receive a written Notice of Seizure which must also specify the grounds on which the goods were seized.

I suggest you do the following at this stage:

1. Phone the NPSU and explain that you have been unable to arrange a delayed interview at Dover. Ask them if there is anything you can do about it.

2. Ask them if the goods have now been seized and if they have, demand that they send you a written notice of seizure immediately.

3. Record your conversation if possible.

4. Put in a SAR for a copy of the officer's notebook

I am afraid the whole process is fiendishly complicated.

 

Last edited by turbulentupstart (10-12-2014 7:26 pm)

 

11-12-2014 7:42 am  #15


Re: Cigarettes detained

Thank you for valuable points.
I'm not able to do any of steps 1-3 as there is no phone number to BFNPSU. They only have fax number which I've used do send the statement (see above post)
I will request a copy of notebook, but I'm not sure if without written notice of seizure I can proceed with it.
The only thing it's written in notebook is that I refused to be interviewed because I was in rush to catch a ferry (at least I've signed only such sentence)

     Thread Starter
 

11-12-2014 8:33 pm  #16


Re: Cigarettes detained

NPSU phone number is 01752 765817. Lines are only open 10am to 1pm. Much patience is required Expect to hear a lot of the engaged tone.

 

11-12-2014 8:44 pm  #17


Re: Cigarettes detained

Thanks a million. I will call tomorrow, should I advise them about recording of the conversation?

     Thread Starter
 

11-12-2014 8:46 pm  #18


Re: Cigarettes detained

seb1k wrote:

Thanks a million. I will call tomorrow, should I advise them about recording of the conversation?

 NO!!! MOST CERTAINLY NOT!!!,  otherwise they will instantly disconnect the call.

 

12-12-2014 11:50 pm  #19


Re: Cigarettes detained

I've called NPSU today. I experienced about 20 minutes of engaged tone, but eventually got through. I've explained to the operator what happend, how I was trying to resolve this, and provided all the details. The man I was talking with was very polite, however he could not help me directly because the goods have not been seized yet (which is a good thing by the way) He also told me that because I was trying to make a contact since 5th of December which is within the timeframe of 30 days from detention of goods I should go for that interview. Another thing I found out: there are two numbers missing from URN/Seal number on Notice of Goods Detained I received from BF in Dover. Although not sure if that might have any favourable meaning for me. I was given full seal number during call. I also obtained two phone numbers where someone should help me with an interview. I was also instructed that there will be answerphone if I will not get through.

First number 03000515435 brought me to a lady which listened to what I had to say and advised me that "they will call me back". She suggested me to wait for a call, said her line is not for "that" and... hanged up http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/errr.png
 before I managed to ask her a question.

Full of hope I dialed second number 01304664687. I spoked with another female, providing all details all over again. She told me that I had wrong number (the one from booklet) and she will send an email to the case officer and ask him to call me (I gave my number durign call) to make appointment for an interview. Level of ignorance in tone of that lady's voice was simply outrageous but at least I achieved something.

I recorded all 3 conversations and hopefully will not have to make a use of them...
Will post update once I get call back. Have they got a right to impose the date of this interview? Or I can negotiate (withing reasonable limits of course)

     Thread Starter
 

13-12-2014 9:48 am  #20


Re: Cigarettes detained

I once had some goods 'detained',i was told to make contact within 10 days,everything was fully explained and the phone number was for the local/port ukbf.

When i rang the day after,i was asked when i could attend,it was at my own convience,i gave a date,this was checked with the ukbf who detained my goods and a time was agreed that suited both of us.


Please ensure you do not divulge any information which could identify you as Border Force will use your posts here as evidence against you in court.
Better to live one day as a lion than a thousand days as a sheep'

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