Opinion Number. 150

Subject

CUSTOMS WHETHER COMPTROLLER-GENERAL MAY RETURN FORFEITED GOODS TO OWNER, WITH OR WITHOUT CONDITIONS

Author
Key Legislation

CUSTOMS ACT 1901, ss. 208, 262, 264, 265

Date
Client
The Comptroller-General of Customs

The Comptroller-General of Customs:

The Comptroller-General asks for advice on the following questions:

  1. Does section 208 of the Customs Act empower the Comptroller-General to deal with goods which are forfeited by virtue of the provisions of section 262?
  2. Presuming that it does so, can the Comptroller-General return to the persons fined the goods which have been forfeited, and if so can he make any terms in so doing, as for instance to give up portion only, or on condition the goods must be exported?
  3. Would section 208 apply to a case decided under section 265?
  1. Section 208 empowers the Comptroller-General to dispose of or destroy forfeited goods. This power extends to goods forfeited under section 262.
  2. No. The power to 'dispose of the forfeited goods means to deal with the goods by way of sale or otherwise, but does not include the power to apply the goods or their proceeds to any particular purpose. The application of forfeiture is vested in the Minister by section 264. Even that section does not seem to contemplate the restoration of the goods, or the remission of the forfeiture, which is properly a matter for the Governor-General; see opinion of the Attorney-General dated 18 November 1902.(1)
  3. Yes, but only for the purpose of'disposing of or destroying' the goods; see answer to question (2).

[Vol. 4, p. 15]

(1) Opinion No. 110.