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United Kingdom VAT & Duties Tribunals (Excise) Decisions
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Cite as:  UKVAT(Excise) E00215
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Importation of large quantities of dutiable goods - Seizure of vehicle - Vehicle belonging to driver's partner - Restoration offered subject to conditions - Reasonableness - Presumption of commerciality, appeal dismissed
LONDON TRIBUNAL CENTRE
HELEN TAYLOR Appellant
- and -
THE COMMISSIONERS OF CUSTOMS AND EXCISE Respondents
Tribunal: MR PAUL HEIM CMG (Chairman)
MR P D DAVDA FCA
Sitting in public in London on 14 January 2002
The Appellant not represented
Miss Zoe Taylor of Counsel for the Respondents
© CROWN COPYRIGHT 2002
3. The Commissioners then produced a bundle of documents.
4. Evidence for the Commissioners was given by Mr Ian McEntee, Review Officer, South East, stationed in Canterbury.
"We act on behalf of Miss H Taylor the owner and registered keeper of a Renault Clio index number K 387 VTA. On our client's behalf we wish to appeal against the decision to permit restoration of the above vehicle upon payment of the sum of £1000.
Miss Taylor resides at 8 Whitebeam Close, Paignton with her common law husband Mr James Polding, and their three children aged 11, 7 and 6. Miss Taylor works on a part-time basis earning £100 per week. In addition the family receives working family tax credit of £110 per week and family allowance of £40.
In the Spring of this year Mr Polding informed Miss Taylor that he wished to travel to France with the intention of buying tobacco products for his own use. Miss Taylor was informed that the savings made in purchasing the products in France would cover the cost of the trip and would justify the initial outlay. Our client understands that Mr Polding intended to use his savings and money which had been given to him in lieu of birthday and Christmas presents etc. Miss Taylor consented to Mr Polding having the use of her vehicle but was not aware that Mr Polding intended to purchase the actual quantities brought back into this country.
It is understood that Mr Polding was detained by Customs and the following quantities of goods were seized:- 25 kgs of hand-rolling tobacco, 2600 cigarettes, 110 cigarillos, 75 cls of still wine, the decision having been made that Mr Polding did not intend to use the goods for his own use. Our client now understands that Mr Polding had purchased quantities far in excess of those envisaged by Miss Taylor. Whilst it is not within our remit to make representations on behalf of Mr Polding, we have received assurances from Mr Polding that notwithstanding the fact that the quantity of goods considerably exceeded the quantities set out in the Schedule to the Excise Duties (Personal Reliefs) Order 1992 the goods were not intended for commercial purposes and were intended for his own use. It appears that Mr Polding was assured by the vendor of the goods that tobacco will keep in good condition indefinitely provided that it is stored correctly.
Our client's position in this matter is that she lent her vehicle to Mr Polding in total ignorance of the intention to purchase goods in such quantity. Had she been aware of Mr Polding's intention she would not have given her consent to the use of the vehicle. Miss Taylor did not stand to benefit from the purchase of the goods other than indirectly in that Mr Polding would otherwise have purchased tobacco for his own use at UK prices.
Our client is heavily dependent upon use of her vehicle to transport herself and her young children and is finding it extremely difficult without a car at present. She is not in the position to raise the sum of £1000 demanded for release of the vehicle"
"Our overall conclusion is that Mrs Hopping's knowledge and acceptance of the trips could reasonably have been inferred by the officer. It is not our function to decide whether the officer was right or not; all we are allowed by the 1994 Act to do is to determine whether he could reasonably have reached the conclusions that he did. Mrs Hopping has suffered the severe penalty of losing her car. But she was close to the action and must be taken to have known the implication of allowing her car to be used for this bootlegging trips. The published stakes were high: use it and lose it. They were widely known. She allowed her car to be used and her loss of it is not, we think, a disproportionate consequence"
PAUL HEIM CMG