A MAGISTRATE is to reconsider whether a light goods vehicle used for smuggling should be forfeited even though its owner was unaware of the crime, following a Court of Appeal ruling yesterday overturning a 1961 case. The vehicle, owned by CEC Finance Ltd, was hired to Mr Tsui Wai-shing. Both were blameless, but Mr Tsui's partner, Pang Ying-wah, became involved in smuggling television sets in the van, the judgement said. Customs officers caught the smugglers and the vehicle was liable to forfeiture. Magistrate Mr Peter Line ordered forfeiture on April 28, 1992, saying he was bound by a 1961 decision of the full court that said the head-on conflict between the interests of the community trying to make it difficult for smugglers and blameless owners of vehicles should be resolved in favour of forfeiture. Mr Richard Mills-Owens, QC, for the finance company, asked the court to overrule that decision. Giving the judgement of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice Bokhary said that the full court had gone too far. The legislature could have provided that forfeiture orders could not be made against blameless hire purchase companies, or that hire purchase arrangements should be ignored where forfeiture was concerned; but it did neither, leaving the magistrate with an unfettered discretion. The court set aside Mr Line's forfeiture order and remitted the matter for him to consider again. CEC were awarded the cost of the appeal.