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The ECJ's Principle on Interest on Refunds of Duties Levied in Breach of Union Law and its Compatibility with the Customs Refund Interest Rule of Article 116(6) of the IPC

by Dr. Annika Verhorst

Refunds of import or export duties that have already been paid can be of great economic significance for both the companies concerned and the customs authorities. The same applies to interest that may have to be paid by the customs authorities to the economic operator on refunded import or export duties.

The refund interest provision of Article 116 (6) of the CCC (formerly Article 241 of the CCC) generally precludes the payment of refund interest by the customs authorities. The ECJ, on the other hand, provides for a general obligation to pay interest on refunds of duties levied in violation of EU law. With reference to the Wortmann case (ECJ, judgment of 18.1.2017, Case C-365/15), this paper deals in particular with the question of whether the ECJ's interest principle is compatible with the refund interest rule under customs law, or whether there may be principles under customs law that result in the ECJ's case law not being applicable to customs law situations, or only to a limited extent. On the basis of the result elaborated in the paper on this question, the implications for Article 116 (6) of the IPC are subsequently examined.

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