Excise Duty - Restoration of car - Car seized from user - Owner not involved in transportation of excise goods - User deceived owner as to use to which car would be put - Customs offered no evidence - Commissioners agree to conduct further review on the basis of findings of fact - Findings of fact by Tribunal
LONDON TRIBUNAL CENTRE
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THE COMMISSIONERS OF CUSTOMS AND EXCISE Respondents
Tribunal: Adrian Shipwright (Chairman)
Bernard J Coode FFA
Lynneth M Salisbury
Sitting in public in London on 1 July 2002
The Appellant appeared in person
Richard Smith of Counsel for the Respondents
(a) The Appellant was the registered keeper of a Ford Escort car registration number K 852 MMD.
(b) The Appellant had insured the Car for Mrs Green (one of the people in the Car when it was seized) to drive. This was to allow Mrs Green to take the appellant to work and to pick up the Appellant's children from school.
(c) The Appellant worked full-time from 9 AM to 5:30 PM. The appellant picked up her children from school when she could but Mrs Green collected them in the Car when she could not.
(d) Mrs Green would take the Appellant to work in the Car when she could not collect the children. Mrs Green would then have access to the Car all day.
(e) The Appellant trusted Mrs Green "would respect that it was my car". The Appellant was not aware that it had been used for other purposes. It was to take the Appellant to work and to pick up the children.
(f) Mrs Green asked to use the Car "to pop up to see her sister". Mrs Green initiated this claiming her car was "off road" at the time.
(g) The Appellant is a single mother. She agreed to Mrs Green's request to borrow the Car. The initiative for this came from Mrs Green who claimed her car was "off road" at the time. This was the excuse used by Mrs Green to obtain use of the Car. The Appellant agreed to Mrs Green's suggestion because Mrs Green in the Appellant's view had been "doing a favour" for the Appellant by collecting her children and driving her to work. It seemed reasonable for Mrs Green to use the Car in those circumstances to visit relatives.
(h) The Appellant had not been reckless as to the use of the Car and was not aware of what use it was, in fact, to be put having been deceived by Mrs Green into believing that it was for a family visit in the United Kingdom.
(i) We found the Appellant to be a truthful and honest witness. We believe her when she says that she lent the Car to Mrs Green and had insured it for Mrs Green to drive because of the Appellant's circumstances and the service that Mrs Green had provided. We find the borrowing to have been initiated by Mrs Green and that the Appellant was unaware of the use to which the Car was to be put by Mrs Green and would not have agreed to such a use.
(j) We also find that the Appellant had no knowledge of the use to which the Car was actually to be put or that Mr and Mrs Green might be importing alcohol and tobacco into the United Kingdom or even that the Car was to be taken out of the United Kingdom.