Truck co-driver does not automatically become customs debtor

The FG Baden Württemberg (judgment of 21.7.2015, 11 K 1466/13) has decided that not every co-driver of a vehicle with which goods are brought in violation of customs regulations becomes a customs debtor. Rather, it is a question of whether the co-driver must be aware of the customs procedures in the specific situation according to the standards of an intelligent and careful economic operator.

For this reason, a passenger who only takes part in a border crossing for training purposes is not to be accused of negligence within the meaning of Art. 202 CC if he does not know that the customs office of the importing country also has to be visited on a border crossing.

The co-driver was not trained in customs law before his familiarisation journey and could therefore not be accused of not knowing anything about the specific customs regulations.

In a 2004 ruling, the ECJ had extended the liability of co-drivers because it had considered them to be involved within the meaning of Art. 202 CCC. However, the FG Baden Württemberg has now made it clear that the mere presence of the co-driver is not enough, but that knowledge of the customs regulations must be added.

Lawyer Dr. Tristan Wegner

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