Claim interest on unlawful duties

In its judgment of 18 January 2017 (C-365/15), the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that an interest claim may exist for unlawfully levied customs duties from the date of payment of the duties. The case in which the judgment was based concerned unlawfully imposed anti-dumping duties on which the applicant could claim interest from the date of payment of the anti-dumping duties. As a result, companies now have the option of claiming interest on their unjustly levied duties in addition to reimbursement

Interest obligation due to unlawful anti-dumping regulation

In the specific case of the European Court of Justice, the interest on anti-dumping duties levied illegally after the underlying anti-dumping regulation had previously been declared illegal by the European Court of Justice. Neither European customs law nor German tax law provides for an express interest claim after payment of the duties. With reference to its earlier case law, the ECJ now confirmed a unwritten interest claim also for unlawfully levied customs duties.

However, even after this judgement it remains unclear in which cases of illegal tax collection a claim for interest exists.

No general interest on customs duties

Article 241 of the Customs Code (CC), which has essentially been incorporated into Article 116(6) of the Union Customs Code (UCC), stipulates that the customs authorities do not have to pay interest. The ECJ interprets the provision against the background of the history of its origin to the effect that it only includes those illegal customs duties that are attributable to rapid customs clearance. In the context of modern customs clearance, customs declarations are usually submitted in electronic form without the customs authorities actually checking compliance with customs regulations in detail. Errors resulting from this are not intended to trigger an interest claim on the part of the economic operator.

According to the ECJ, in the event of an anti-dumping regulation adopted illegally, the economic operator is entitled to interest. This is precisely not due to rapid customs clearance. There is therefore much to suggest that an interest claim of the participant can only be ruled out if the error in the collection of duties is due to rapid customs clearance.

The lawyers at O&W will assist you in applying for a refund and paying interest on it. In your specific case, we will check whether an interest claim can be applied for.

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Lawyer Dr. Tristan Wegner

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