No taxation without consent
No standing army in peace-time without consent
Due process before property seizure
Innocent until proven guilty
Trial by jury of peers
Speedy trialLiability for unlawful property seizure
Parliament in this Act first taxed the colonies for revenue instead of merely to regulate trade. Part of the revenue would help support a 6,000 to 10,000-man British garrison in the colonies.
Parliament halved the old unenforced 6 pence per gallon duty on foreign molasses imported into the colonies, to 3 pence per gallon, but British customs officials and the British navy would enforce this new rate. (A 6-pence duty on foreign molasses would discourage trade while a 3-pence duty would encourage it, Parliament reasoned, and thus boost actual revenue.) In 1766 Parliament cut this duty to about one penny per gallon, which the colonists paid, since that was about what they had been paying British customs collectors not to enforce the higher duties.
This Act doubled taxes on European goods shipped to the colonies via England as the 17th-century Navigation Acts required. Those Acts also listed "enumerated articles" which the colonists must export only to England if they exported them beyond intercolonial trade. To this list the Revenue Act added furs, potash, iron, and lumber – all major colonial exports to Europe. British merchants in England resold these "enumerated articles" to Europe at higher prices, reaping unearned profits.
Colonial shippers leaving colonial ports, even if only for intercolonial trade, had to file detailed manifests declaring their cargoes and post high bonds to guarantee payment of import duties on foreign molasses. Compliance cost time and money because customs houses were few and far between. (Almost all intercolonial trade occurred by sea where possible, due to poor roads.)
Ships and cargoes violating the Revenue Act were liable to seizure by customs officials in port and by the British navy at sea. In seizure cases under this Act the burden of proof lay on shippers to show that they had complied rather than on the seizer to show they had not. These cases were tried before a judge appointed by the British home government in a juryless admiralty court in distant Halifax, Nova Scotia, the British naval headquarters in North America.
Ships and cargoes seized and condemned under the Revenue Act were sold at auction. The customs officer involved, the royal colonial governor, and the British home government each received one third of the auction price of ships and cargoes seized in port. The British naval officers involved and the British home government each received half of the auction price of ships and cargoes seized at sea. This Act almost totally exempted customs and naval officers from countersuit by shippers for unlawful seizure. These provisions encouraged unjust seizures.