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Baker Tilly obtains landmark decision for German customs practice: ECJ confirms right to interest from date of payment


Baker Tilly has obtained a landmark judgment by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) (April 28, 2022 / C-419/20): The main proceedings conducted by Baker Tilly before the Hamburg Fiscal Court concerned the question of whether there is a right to interest on the refund amount of unlawfully determined and collected anti-dumping duties and whether the national legislator can limit such a right, if it exists, to the period from the date of lis pendens.

In the preliminary ruling proceedings, the ECJ follows the argumentation of Baker Tilly attorney Sven Pohl as representative of the plaintiff company and states that a claim for interest is required to compensate for damages due to the unlawful levying of duties. However, in order to compensate for the entire damage, it is contrary to Union law for the interest claim to take effect only from the date of lis pendens. Instead, the plaintiff company is entitled to interest from the date of payment of the unlawfully assessed customs duties. The ECJ thus follows the argumentation submitted by Pohl both in the original proceedings and in the ECJ proceedings.

Decision with far-reaching consequences
The decision has far-reaching consequences for economic operators and the customs administration, as it clarifies that the German legislation, according to which no interest is to be paid in out-of-court appeal proceedings by the administration, is contrary to EU law and that the entitlement to interest therefore follows from the principles of EU law.