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Luxury watch seized by Border Force or HMRC? These are your options

View profile for Cameron Stubbs
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Luxury watch seized by Border Force or HMRC? These are your options

Stephensons has a team of specialist regulatory lawyers who provide advice and representation to businesses and individuals, nationally and internationally, in relation to the seizure of goods by UK Border Force and HM Revenue and Customs.

Stephensons have a wealth of experience in recovering luxury watches including the following brands:

  • Rolex
  • Omega
  • Patek Philippe
  • Audemars Piguet
  • Bremont
  • Lemania

Stephensons have an excellent record of recovering watches of all values ranging from a few thousand to over £100,000. Stephensons have successfully overcome a range of issues which commonly cause the seizure of a watch including:

  1. Issues over payment of duties/VAT
  2. Misdeclarations of value and/or description
  3. Failing to declare the goods
  4. Prohibited materials

Stephensons work closely with clients, specialist customs agents and specialist shipping agents to ensure clients have the best chance of having their goods returned. HMRC have the power to seize watches, under Section 139 of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979. If an individual or business has their watch seized by HMRC or Border Force, and want them to return the watch, in accordance with Notice 12A, they have three options:

1. Challenge the legality of the seizure, through condemnation proceedings in the Magistrates’ Court

2. Write to HMRC or Border Force asking them to return the goods, even if accepting the seizure itself was legal, through a process known as restoration

3. Pursue both of the above routes at the same time

However, it is important to note that options one and two are entirely separate processes and individuals and businesses should seek legal advice before pursuing option three due to potential cost implications.

Case study

Stephensons were instructed in relation to the seizure of a luxury and rare watch featured in a Hollywood movie due to the import requiring a permit under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). An application for restoration was made, along with a suggestion that the watch be restored without the offending watch strap. An agreement was reached and the watch was restored.

Contact us

If you would like to speak to a member of our specialist team in relation to recovering a luxury watch or any other item seized by Border Force and the HMRC please call us on 0161 696 6250 or complete our online enquiry form and we will contact you directly.