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Third-Party Claims Protect Your Property!

Posted by on in Customs & Trade Blog
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We frequently act for Clients whose goods or vehicles have been seized by Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA”).   More often that one would think, these seizures involve goods or conveyances (e.g., tractor-trailers, utility vehicles, transport trailers) that are owned by a person other than the importer (e.g., lease goods, borrowed goods, goods subject to a PPSA security).

Where this happens, the true owner is a third party to the seizure but must often take specific steps to protect its legal interest in the seized property.   If nothing is done, the owner can often find the goods subject to forfeit and sold or disposed of by CBSA!

Customs Seizures & Forfeitures

Generally speaking, section 110 of the Customs Act allows CBSA officers to seize as forfeit any goods or conveyances involved in a contravention of the Act. Seizures generally result in CBSA trying to identify and third parties with an interest in the seized property (“Interested Party”).

Strict time limits are provided to an Interested Party for taking next appropriate steps, and which may start even BEFORE the Interested Party even becomes aware of the seizure. Time thus becomes of the essence.

Since there are several possible hurdles before an Interested Party will be able to succeed with a third-party claim, including showing that they took “all reasonable care”, the burden and onus of making out a case for ownership and entitlement to the goods can be a high bar, usually being assisted by professional advice.

Even then, other challenges may exist with respect to getting a conveyance back. Also note that seizures and forfeitures can also be made under a number of other Acts, including the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act and the Criminal Code, which means that a variety of different rules and appeal mechanisms could also exist depending on the facts of the matter.

Commentary

If you own or have an interest in goods, vehicles or conveyances seized at the border, time is of the essence, and you may need professional advice and assistance in trying to gain release of your property.

Do you require assistance in this area?  If so, please click here.

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