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Netherlands / Supreme Court / 10/02777

Custom duties

Policy area:
Deciding Body type:
National Court/Tribunal
Deciding Body:
Supreme Court
Decision date:

Key facts of the case:

The interested party had to pay custom duties based on an (additional) tax demand of 28 April 2005 for the import of among other things, party tents. The Inland Revenue Service confirmed the demand, after the interested party had asked for a review. The District Court in Haarlem dismissed the request for a judicial review. The interested party appealed to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal confirmed the judgement of the District Court. The Court of Appeal held that the Inland Revenue Service, in view of a judgement of the Court of Justice of the European Communities (hereinafter: ECJ) of 18 December 2008 in case C-349/07 (Sopropé) that the principle of respect for the rights of defence was violated, when the) interested party addressed was not placed in a position in which he could effectively make known his views about the elements on which the administration based its decision prior to the time that the tax demand was issued. However, he was not adversely affected, partly because he could still lodge a request for a review and a further request for judicial review at the District Court. The question is whether the principle of respect for the rights of the defence is a principle of EU law that has direct effect. If so, the question is whether this right has been violated, now that the interested party was not heard before the issue of the (additional) tax demand. The principle of respect for the right of defence is regarded, on the basis of the case law of the ECJ, as a principle of European law. See article 41 of the Charter on Fundamental rights of the EU, but this article is only addressed to the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union. Moreover, this right is not absolute. If the Inland Revenue Service violated the respect for the right of defence, laid down in EU law, the question is which legal consequences this should have. Should they be determined by national law? If not: which circumstances should the national court take into account when it determines the legal consequences, more in particular may it take into account that the procedure, without the violation by the administration of the principle of respect for the rights of defence, laid down in European law, would have had another outcome?