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Customs & Excise Solicitors

Had goods seized by UK Customs Officers? Been accused of smuggling? Need urgent help right away?


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If you believe your case is likely to have serious consequences for you now, or in the future and you have the means to pay for this service

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Whether you find yourself under criminal investigation or are simply wanting to recover goods that you feel were confiscated unfairly, our expert customs and excise solicitors can provide clear practical advice and robust representation when you need it most.

For a free initial consultation on your legal position and the available options, contact our local offices in LondonBirmingham or Manchester.

It is important that you contact our customs solicitors as soon as possible to ensure you have the best chance of success in customs and excise disputes. Whether that is simply getting your goods returned to you, or, in more serious cases, where you find yourself being investigated for a customs and excise offence such as drug smuggling, our experts can help.

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Why choose JD Spicer Zeb?

  • 1000's of Cases Dropped
  • 24/7 Emergency Phonelines
  • 100's of Years Combined Experience
  • Google Reviews Read all Reviews

Recent Cases

There is limited recourse for you if you are falsely accused. Click a selection of the cases we have covered. The best thing you can do is to instruct an excellent solicitor from the outset.

Read more cases

Customs and excise disputes are one of the most complex areas of the law, particularly where there are drugs involved. When you find yourself under investigation, it is critical that you seek the legal expertise of our specialist customs and excise solicitors without delay.

At JD Spicer Zeb, we have a highly skilled and experienced team of customs and excise lawyers who have vast knowledge about proceedings on an international level and can help you to achieve the most favourable outcome possible.

Our specialist customs solicitors in London, Birmingham and Manchester have an excellent reputation and track record of success in helping clients. This includes all manner of customs and excise disputes, from evading alcohol and tobacco duty to drug smuggling offences.

How can we help?

Common questions

We always work with the most experienced and best leading UK barristers, KCs (Kings Counsel). We cover all criminal cases 24/7 at the police station and court. Offices in London, Birmingham, and Manchester cover cases across England and Wales. We can offer Legal Aid and affordable Private fee agreements. We can see you the same day, including virtually. Our Senior Partners supervise all of our cases.

How quickly do you respond?

We respond quickly even during out of hours. We do not get our work by paying for online adverts but based on the fact that few criminal law firms can match our 45 years of experience. Most of our cases are still from word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied clients. We are called daily by dissatisfied clients from firms with less experience than us. We respond very quickly to new enquiries. We know what clients seek and so we update clients rapidly.

Can you get cases dropped?

Yes, read about the recent cases we've helped our clients with here.

We always keep you updated and give straightforward advice. We will get cases dropped early where the case is weak or should not be prosecuted. We will be upfront with you about where you can benefit from a good result with an early guilty plea, such as a discount on your sentence. As we work on cases across all levels with clients from all walks of life, we are excellent at giving clear, spot-on advice. As an established firm, we can allocate a whole team to your case often at short notice to secure evidence to minimise the damage to you. 

Have you won any awards?


"JD Spicer Zeb demonstrated a clear commitment to client service through their work with vulnerable and diverse individuals in what can be severely traumatic circumstances".

Do you offer free consultations?

Where it is possible, we aim to provide an initial consultation to you. If we can speak to you, we can if required inform you about  –

  • Whether we can take the case on and our relevant experience.
  • Public and private funding benefits.
  • Assistance in applying for legal aid where we are likely to accept instructions.
  • An outline of options in police interview only. We will not advise you on which option to adopt.
  • Providing our free written guide explaining the police station process.
  • The gravity of routine and day-to-day offences you face.
  • Consequences of not attending the court or police station.
  • Consequences of interfering with any witnesses.
  • Retaining any evidence in support of your case.
  • If possible an outline of the elements of the offence that the police or CPS must prove.
  • This consultation will normally be by telephone or email and will only be for as long as we deem necessary to establish if we can act for you. If we cannot usefully give you any advice in this manner then we will not continue with the consultation. We will not discuss the case in depth for you to be able to decide on your plea or any significant aspect of the case, as this cannot be undertaken informally.
  • Referring you, if possible, to other firms for matters out of our specialism or if we cannot help.

Consultations do not apply to the following cases –

  • If we do not intend to take the case on.
  • Road Traffic cases, drink driving, drug driving, driving bans, speeding, no insurance, mobile phone use, points etc.
  • In all cases where we do not have the capacity to take your case or the availability of suitably qualified staff to provide an initial free consultation. This is applicable in all cases but especially where a more senior lawyer is required because of your personal needs or the complexity of the case.
  • Harassment/stalking/ coercive behaviour/malicious communications or road traffic cases and most sensitive cases. These cases are often too complicated to assess in short consultations.
  • The locations concerned may be too distant to represent you adequately or it may not be cost-effective for you or us.
  • The case is too complicated to assess or raises various charges or facts, complexity, or history to be considered informally or in a short consultation.
  • In most Legal aid transfers where legal aid is granted to another firm except in very grave cases, we may assess the case and merits for a transfer.
  • If your relationship has broken down with your existing solicitor or several solicitors.
  • If you have been released under investigation and have already had a police station attendance. 
  • If you hold legal aid with another firm and seek a second opinion.
  • If you are calling on behalf of the client as a friend or family member unless you have full authority and full facts.
  • To businesses.
  • Advising whether you were given good advice by your other solicitor.
  • Whether to decide to plead guilty or not guilty.
  • Whether you have an arguable defence in law or factually complicated defences.
  • Any advice you have had after your first court appearance.
  • Any advice on appeal on conviction or sentence.
  • If we feel we are unable to communicate with you.
  • If we are likely to be conflicted or breach our professional rules.

Why choose JD Spicer Zeb’s customs & excise solicitors?

Whatever the item is being smuggled in, the rewards may well be high, but so are the sentences for individuals who are caught and convicted.

In recent years, HMRC has adopted a tougher and more aggressive approach to smuggling offences, turning its attention firmly towards those who are deliberately avoiding paying duty on their goods. Similarly, Courts are taking these types of offences very seriously, handing out tough sentences, including long terms of imprisonment.

These types of offences are complicated matters and should be handled by expert solicitors only. JD Spicer Zeb Solicitors can provide professional representation against smuggling accusations with the aim of preventing, or at least minimising, the confiscation of your assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

This is why it is vital that you seek specialist advice from our expert solicitors at JD Spicer Zeb and get quality legal representation right from the outset for customs and excise disputes.

Our customs seizures lawyers also have the expertise needed to have your goods released if they have been wrongly seized by the authorities.

Our dedicated team of customs and excise solicitors are ready and on hand to provide clear advice and robust representation that will make a positive difference throughout your case. We will advise you in straightforward plain English, ensuring you understand the investigation or action being brought against you and that you are fully informed of your rights and options on how best to proceed. If English is not your first language, then we can organise professional interpreters to translate any necessary documents.

Our customs fraud lawyers can also help you co-operate with the investigating bodies, liaise with HMRC on your behalf, and work with you diligently and proactively to either bring matters to a swift and satisfactory conclusion or secure the most favourable sentence.

Whatever the nature or severity of your case, you can be confident that you are in the most knowledgeable and experienced hands and that our customs solicitors are firmly committed to securing the best possible outcome for you.

What type of cases do JD Spicer Zeb’s customs & excise solicitors take on?

Customs Officers in the UK have the right to seize your goods such as counterfeit items, alcohol, or tobacco if:

  • You have failed to pay the correct duty
  • Your items are banned or restricted in the UK
  • You have broken UK customs laws or regulations
  • You are suspected of smuggling by importing or exporting goods illegally

If you find yourself in these circumstances, you need the expert advice and representation of our specialist customs and excise lawyers right away. They can help you with the prompt release of goods seized by HMRC and guide you through the process of recovery.

In particular, our customs lawyers can help you with matters relating to customs and excise disputes such as:

  • Challenging the seizure of your goods if you think that it was incorrect or unfair
  • Writing a prompt ‘notice of claim’ to HMRC on your behalf to get your goods back within the time limit
  • Writing a ‘restoration letter’ to get your items back
  • Complaints
  • Claims of unfair treatment against you by HMRC

What is excise and customs duty?

Excise duty and customs duty are different types of tax that apply to imports.

Customs duty is a tax imposed by the government on all goods imported into the UK from foreign countries (unless there is a specific exemption from customs duty for a particular country or type of goods). Customs duty is based on the value of the goods.

Excise duty is a tax imposed on certain types of goods that are deemed to be harmful to public health or the environment. Types of goods which are subject to excise duty in the UK include tobacco, alcohol and petrol.

What to do if goods are seized by customs

If you have had good seized by HMRC or by the Border Force, you can send a formal ‘notice of claim’ challenging the seizure. This must be done on the grounds that the seizure was not lawful. This can be a complicated legal issue, so it is advisable to work with expert customs solicitors when challenging a seizure of goods.

What is the legal defence for breaking customs laws?

You may be able to avoid or minimise penalties for breaking customs laws if you can prove that there is a ‘reasonable excuse’ for your failure to comply with the law.

There is no strict legal definition of what constitutes a reasonable excuse, this will be for HMRC or an independent tribunal to decide. Generally, a reasonable excuse for breaking customs law will need to involve an unexpected or unusual event that you could not have foreseen or that was beyond your control.

Contact our customs and excise solicitors today!

For urgent specialist advice, immediate representation or to speak to us confidentially about a customs and excise case, please do not hesitate to contact our dedicated team of customs solicitors in London, Birmingham or Manchester on telephone:

Or email: solicitors@jdspicer.co.uk

Alternatively, you can fill out our quick online enquiry form and our customs lawyers will get back to you as soon as possible.

In Urgent Cases

For immediate representation and advice, you can contact our Emergency Number:

07836 577 556 and we will provide you with the urgent assistance you need.

How can we help?

  • Umar Zeb
      • Umar Zeb
      • Senior Partner - Head of Private Client Crime
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  • Lisa Nicol
      • Lisa Nicol
      • Managing Partner - Head of Crime & Serious Cases
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  • James O'Donnell
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  • Sanjay Cholera
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  • Peter Mulhearn
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