Successfully defending a Crown Court appeal

Paul acted for the Border Force, responding to an appeal in the Crown Court against a condemnation (and costs) order made by the Magistrates’ Court.

Mr A had travelled into the United Kingdom with 10,400 cigarettes in a car belonging to his brother, and was stopped by the Border Force, who seized the cigarettes and car. Six weeks later, Mr A was stopped coming into the UK with 12,000 cigarettes in a car belonging to another brother; again, the cigarettes and car were seized.

The Magistrates’ Court found that in both cases the cigarettes were not for ‘personal use’ and should be condemned and forfeit but, applying Lindsay [2002] EWCA Civ 267 and Newbury [2003] EWHC 702 (Admin), that the cars, worth £10,000 and £15,000 respectively, should be returned to the brothers (who had not known about Mr A’s activities).

Mr A appealed.

The Crown Court accepted Paul’s submissions that, as the appeal to the Crown Court was a ‘de novo’ hearing (i.e. a fresh rehearing of the matter before the Magistrates’ Court), Mr A could not just appeal the parts of the Magistrate’s order condemning the cigarettes and ordering him to pay costs, but that the Crown Court must also consider the situation of the cars (i.e. they were potentially liable to be condemned).

In the event the Crown Court found that the cigarettes should be condemned but the ‘innocent and/or ignorant’ brothers were entitled to have their cars returned. Mr A, however, had to pay the costs of the Magistrates’ Court and of his unsuccessful appeal.