Re Joseph Delacher and Company

JurisdictionAustria
CourtAdministrative Court (Austria)
Austria, Administrative Court.
Re Josef Delacher and Company
(Appeal Against a Decision of the Customs and Excise Department of Vorarlberg).
STATES AS INTERNATIONAL PERSONS

States as international persons In general Meaning of term Germany after Second World War Whether term of historical and geographical significance only or whether conveying precise meaning in international law The law of Austria.

Summary: The facts.The appellant firm, on importing goods from the German Democratic Republic, stated in the customs declaration that the country of origin was Germany. It submitted invoices which made it appear that the supplier was a firm in the Federal Republic of Germany. The customs authority, relying on the appellant's statement and the invoices, failed to levy the duty which would have been payable on goods imported from the German Democratic Republic but not from the Federal Republic. When the mistake was discovered, the customs authority demanded payment of the duty which had remained unpaid, in accordance with section 174 (3) (c) of the Austrian Customs Law, which required such payment from persons who had made false statements relating to goods.

Held: that the appellant had not made false statements and that the decision levying the duty must be quashed. The appellant's statement that the country of origin of the goods was Germany could not be false because the word Germany had no meaning in international law, and the statement should therefore have been rejected as failing altogether to state the country of origin.

The Court said:

The decision under appeal is based on section 174 (3) (c) of the Customs Law of 1955. According to this provision a person becomes liable, by operation of law, to discharge a debt by way of customs duty if by false statements relating to goods he causes goods subject to duty to be handed to him either free of duty or subject to duty which is lower than it should be. The amount of the debt so incurred is equivalent to the duty which has not been levied. In the present case the appellant was required, by virtue of section 52 (2) (d), to state the country of manufacture and origin. It is not in dispute that the respondent authority has made a finding to the effect that the appellant gave as the country of origin Germanyand notas should have been donethe German Democratic Republic. This Court is unable to regard this statement as one which was capable, within the meaning of section 174 (3) (c) of the Customs Law, of...

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