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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71156
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Hi, I ordered 100 cigars from a website that seemed above

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I ordered 100 cigars from a website that seemed above board in Spain and that claimed that eu duty had been paid and that they do not process orders that will be considered illegal. However I have received a Notice Of Seizure under the Customs And Excise Management Act 1979 together with a notice of Warning Of Liability To Prosecution. The order says I can appeal within a month but that if I do make a claim legal proceedings will be taken for the condemnation of the goods. I'm not worried about the forfeiture of the goods but I'm concerned about the possibility of prosecution. I've contacted the website but they haven't responded. What should I do?
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
What are you hoping to achieve?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The warning of liability to prosecution has as you can imagine troubled me. The notice of seizure states that i can appeal within a month to stop the goods being destroyed but that they will then take action to condemn them so I'm not worried about losing the cigars but I don't know if I should write to HMRC to explain that i bought the goods in good faith from what appeared to be a reputable website or am I better to just wait until after the month is up and see what happens?

Do you have screenshots from the website representing that duty is paid?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes but I can't seem to paste it into this's the web address and the details are in the FAQs

Yes, but have you saved a screenshot of it?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Customer: replied 3 years ago.


I'm still unable to paste the screen shots into this reply box...I have tried!!

No, don't worry. I don't need to see it. As long as you have it then that is fine.
They actually probably do not intend prosecuting you anyway. They do not usually prosecute on the first occasion and this is not a huge amount.
However, given that you have a defence it is worth writing to them with that information and apologising. If you have a screenshot from a website which represents that they have paid duty then I'm not sure what more you could do than that.
The appeal relates to the forfeiture obviously not the notice.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So just to clarify Jo...I can write to them explaining the situation but that won't be deemed as an appeal. I have also just recieved an email from the company which says...

Sorry for the delay answering.

We have thousands of customers in the UK that receive our products regularly without any issue as you have just received.

There is free movement of goods and people within the EU so you can buy anything you want in any EU member state paying taxes on it and not having to pay taxes again in the UK. Thousands of our customers are enjoying that way of cheaper tobacco.

On the other hand C&E are not happy with it and on rare occasions they intercept a package and destroy it. In the extremely rare cases that this happens we reship with a different method at no extra cost to the customer. They also run campaigns trying to say that it is illegal, but it isn't and the proof is that thousands of customers are enjoying our service since 1998.

No. There is a specific form to appeal usually. I would though make clear in your representations that you don't intend to appeal the forfeiture and then there is no room for misunderstanding.
I have to say that it has always occurred to me that import duties do appear to offend against the whole principle of the EU. The whole point of the EU is that there should be free movement of trade which means an absence of import duties but they escape with alcohol and cigarettes. In any event though, the Government do have an exemption on the point. I have never researched it in depth as I suspect it would lead to a challenge.
You can import enough for 'personal use'. They are probably saying that 100 exceeds personal use and a jury might or might not accept it.
You can actually always grow your own tobacco easily enough and that will really give the Government a headache as it is perfectly lawful and they cannot tax it.
Jo C. and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Jo,

Thanks for your help!

No problem.
Have a look here
That is all perfectly lawful and vastly cheaper. When the Government realises that it cannot levy tax upon growers to use to fund twaddle like the nonsense that is euphemistically called 'domestic abuse' in the UK it will have a real problem.