The owner of an adult sex toy business is challenging the state’s seizure of her goods after they were deemed “obscene and indecent”.
Justice Avason Quinlan-Williams has granted leave to Shenice Katteck, 26, proprietress of Rogue Adult Toys & Lingerie, to seek judicial review challenging the detention and seizure of a quantity of toys comprising dildos and wand massages.
Katteck is suing the Customs and Excise Comptroller and the Attorney General.
Contending that the comptroller’s decision to seize her adult sex toys for sale was illegal, irrational and unfair, she argues that it was a breach of her rights under Section 4 of the Constitution.
Among the reliefs being sought are an order to quash his decision and order that the toys be returned to her forthwith, or within 48 hours of the court’s order.
She noted that the exercise of discretion by the comptroller to seize her articles is a clear, arbitrary, and misinformed exercise of power, since while some wand massages were seized, similar toys in her shipment were not.
In her affidavit, Katteck said she established the business two years ago and in July, she made online purchases of a number of adult toys in bulk to restock her business inventory and to fill pre-orders.
When she went to clear the items last month, she said a Customs official observed that her shipment/box weighed less, and affixed on it was a document stating, “Notice of seizure of goods”.
The notice stated that 13 of the adult toys were deemed to be “obscene and indecent articles” and seized.
Despite the removal of the items, she said she was still charged duties in the sum of $1,839.81 to clear the package at the stated weight of the shipment.
When she returned to her business, she noted that 18 items, and not 13, were missing.
She said the seized items were among the more expensive in her package and included five vibrating dildos, 10 dildos and three wand massages.
In her affidavit, Katteck stated that she never before had any difficulty importing and clearing adult toys.
Claiming that there has also never previously been any policy in the Customs and Excise Department preventing the sale of adult toys, she said her business caters to the growing market in T&T for adult sex toys and lingerie.
She argued that it was “patently unfair” that the comptroller would allow other people to import and sell similar adult sex toys.
Listing the names of other businesses involved in the importation and sale of adult sex toys, the proprietress claimed her competitors publicly advertised hundreds of products to their thousands of followers on social media accounts.
“Adult sex toys are not made in Trinidad and Tobago and do not fall from the sky. They are imported by these businesses and the very Customs Department has no problems with clearing these items, so I am at a loss to understand the sudden arbitrary and illegal seizure of my products,” she said in her court documents.
She expressed concern that her business could be ruined.
“This has had a crippling effect on my business as many of my customers are switching their loyalty and simply purchasing from my competitors who are openly stocking and selling the very items that were seized from me. As a consequence, my livelihood, goodwill and reputation built from two years of hard work has been adversely impacted,” she said.
The proprietress was also worried that she could face criminal charges and prosecution.
Katteck is being represented by a team of attorneys from the Freedom Law Chambers of Anand Ramlogan.