Condemnation & Cash Forfeiture

If your cash, goods and/or vehicles have been seized by HM Revenue and Customers (HMRC) or the Border Force under the Excise Management Act 1979, your legal representation is usually at your own expense. It is not eligible for Legal Aid. Condemnation proceedings are a civil matter and will wait until any associated criminal proceedings are completed. So challenging a seizure can take several months.

How we can help

Members of Becket Chambers Criminal Team have extensive experience in this area. We provide advice and representation in all aspects of civil proceedings relating to condemnation and cash forfeiture. We can also advise and represent you where cash or goods have been seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Our expertise

Under the Direct Public Access scheme, our barristers can help in cases relating to:

  • Condemnation cases involving excise goods (tobacco and/or alcohol) and/or vehicles that have been intercepted and seized by the HMRC or the Border Force
  • Cash forfeiture (where cash in your possession has been deemed to be the proceeds of criminal activity, for the purposes of crime, or related to money laundering)

As well as acting for defendants in these cases, we act for the Border Force and HMRC, so we have in-depth knowledge and experience of how these authorities operate. We can provide oral and written advice regarding your situation and the prospective outcome of your case, as well as representing you in court. Many of our barristers have experience of working with clients who need the additional help of an interpreter.

Case Studies

Cash seizure on leaving the UK

Paul represented the Home Office in a case concerning a cash seizure of approximately £40,000 from foreign nationals leaving the UK through Dover Docks. The concealed and undeclared cash was claimed to be the profits of online gambling and/or foreign property transactions. However, the lack of sufficient audit trail or evidence of currency exchange suggested Continue reading

Complex issues around vehicle condemnation

Paul acted for a Polish courier company who had a van and trailer seized because their “groupage” load contained 100,000 cigarettes concealed in copper immersion-heater tanks. The client was clearly being used by a sophisticated smuggling operation (the tanks needed to be X-rayed and taken apart to find and access the cigarettes), but issues were Continue reading

Condemnation & Cash Forfeiture Articles

Challenging Customs’ Seizures – Condemnation or Restoration

When “Customs” (usually the Border Force or HMRC) seize an individual’s or a company’s goods and/or vehicles using their powers under the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979, for example under section 49 where goods are subject to excise duty, or a prohibition or restriction or section 141 where “any ship, aircraft, vehicle, animal, container Continue reading

Re-opening Civil Matters in the Magistrates Court – Traffic jams can leave you car-less or homeless

Sometimes cases are a bit like buses and the same unusual legal points appear in several cases in close succession; I have just had two cases where the Magistrates Court has been asked to review its own Civil Orders depriving individuals of, respectively, their car and their home. The first case involved condemnation proceedings following Continue reading

Condemnation & Cash Forfeiture Testimonials

….Our counsel, Paul Tapsell, was second to none… well done and thanks for all your work on this… great result…

Mrs M from a firm of solicitors instructing Paul Tapsell – February 15