ECJ: Family Relationship and Customs Value

ECJ, judgement of 21 January 2016 – C-430/14.

Context

Determining the customs value in case of kinship relations between buyers and sellers of goods can lead to the presumption that the transaction value has been manipulated. For such cases the customs rules foresee specific rules.

The present case involved the importation of garments from the USA to Latvia into the customs territory of the EU. The seller was a legal person, the buyer was a natural person. Therefore, direct application of the rules would not raise the question of family relationship between the parties.

However, not explicitly covered by the rules is the case that the purchaser is a natural person and the director / manager of the legal person is the brother of the buyer. Since the interests are the same here the customs authorities presumed a kinship relation and questioned the declared transaction value.

The European Court of Justice concludes that in such cass the rules on kinship connections are still applicable.

Ruling

Article 143(1)(h) of Commission Regulation (EEC) No 2454/93 of 2 July 1993 laying down provisions for the implementation of Council Regulation (EEC) No 2913/92 establishing the Community Customs Code, as amended by Commission Regulation (EC) No 46/1999 of 8 January 1999, must be interpreted as meaning that a buyer, who is a natural person, and a seller, which is a legal person, within which a kin of that buyer actually has the power to influence the sales price of goods for the benefit of that buyer, must be regarded as being related persons within the meaning of Article 29(1)(d) of Council Regulation (EEC) No 2913/92 of 12 October 1992 establishing the Community Customs Code, as amended by Regulation (EC) No 82/97 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 December 1996.