Can interest on import and export duties be reclaimed? A clear "no" becomes maybe..

By David Anderson

Are businesses able to reclaim interest on import or export duties wrongly paid to HMRC? Historically the answer to this question has always been thought to be a clear ‘no’ given the prohibition in Article 241 of the Customs Code. However this has now come under question following a recent Advocate General (“AG”) opinion in a matter referred to the European Court by Germany, Wortmann KG Internationale Schuhproduktionen (Case C-365/15).

In this opinion the AG has held that interest should be paid to a business who paid import duties which were later found to be not due. Article 241, said the AG, should be read so as to permit payments of interest where payment of the duty was made as a result of invalid or inapplicable provisions in accordance with EU law.

If the Court of Justice does decide to follow the AG’s opinion this will represent a significant development in customs duty law. Businesses who import or export goods should watch this case with interest.

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