Expertise

Mr Patricio Diaz Gavier, attorney-at-law, is a recognized specialist and litigator in customs and excise law in Belgium. His practice is fully dedicated to representing clients in customs and excise disputes against the customs authorities and providing advice in complex customs and excise matters. Due to his expertise, law firms often request for his assistance or a second opinion in customs and excise matters. He represents clients in all stages of proceedings, including:

  • Down raids by the customs authorities of company buildings or private home;
  • Interrogations by the customs authorities;
  • The seizure of goods, correspondence, computers;
  • The administrative proceeding and the administrative appeal;
  • Settlement negotiations with the customs authorities;
  • Proceedings before the civil and criminal courts;
  • Proceedings before the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Below, you will find some examples of recent instructions in customs and excise matters against the customs authorities.

Disputes with the customs authorities about the post-clearance recovery of anti-dumping duties

These disputes usually start following an investigation by the EU anti-fraud office “OLAF”. The OLAF-investigation will establish that the imported goods do not originate in the declared country of origin but in another country. Because of its true origin, the good should have been subject to anti-dumping duties on importation but none were paid. Based on the OLAF-report, the customs authorities seek recovery of the missing anti-dumping duties, with or without considerable customs fines, VAT, etc. As a specialist, Mr Diaz Gavier is regularly consulted in these matters, including the following cases:

  • Ceramic tableware and kitchenware (China);
  • Handpallettrucks (China);
  • Bicycles (China);
  • Steel plates (China);
  • Steel cables (China);
  • Fasteners (China);
  • Cast iron (China);
  • Biodiesel (VS, Argentina, Indonesia);
  • Solar panels (China);
  • Spring washers (China).

Disputes with the customs authorities about the recovery of customs duties 

These disputes have various causes. Most often, it concerns a dispute about the tariff classification, origin or customs value of the goods; the fact that the conditions for importation were not satisfied; or because the goods were withdrawn from customs supervision. Mr Diaz Gavier is regularly consulted in these matters were the customs authorities will seek additional import duties, or fines, or a combination of both. Some examples of recently handled cases include the importation of:

  • C-633/19 (Court of Justice of the European Union);
  • C-398/17 (Court of Justice of the European Union);
  • C-397/17 (Court of Justice of the European Union);
  • Electronic level instruments;
  • Textiles;
  • Car batteries;
  • Vitamin B12 and its derivatives;
  • Choline chloride;
  • L-lysine suphate;
  • Horse feed;
  • Preparations used in animal feeding;
  • Shellfish;
  • Aluminum foil;
  • Bandages;
  • Couscous;
  • Garlic;
  • Meat within quota but without import license;
  • The exportation of controlled items without license;
  • The importation of controlled items without license / surveillance document;
  • The undervaluation of goods;
  • Temporarily imported artworks;
  • Tires;
  • Seed potatoes;
  • Poultry meat;
  • dog chew;
  • Sports shoes;
  • Electronics;
  • Pumps and compressors;
  • Measurement apparatus for airport security;
  • Non-alcoholic beverages;

Disputes with the customs authorities concerning counterfeited goods

Most often, these cases concern the seizure of goods by the customs authorities because the goods are presumed to be counterfeited. Mr Diaz Gavier has represented both companies seeking the seizure of goods imported in the EU in violation of intellectual property rights as companies having their goods seized for alleged violations of intellectual property rights.

Disputes with the customs authorities concerning the exportation of controlled goods without a license

e.g. Chemical products, medicinal products.

Settlement agreements with the customs authorities

Mr Diaz Gavier regularly advises companies on whether or not to accept settlement agreements proposed by the customs authorities and on the possibility or need for a voluntary disclosure of customs offences.

Request for repayment of duties

e.g., biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia, fittings from cast iron (China); batteries, bandages.

Tariff classification – origin – customs value – customs procedures

Mr Diaz Gavier regularly advises his clients in these areas. Some examples of recent cases include:

  • Tariff classification: e.g., sports articles, beverages, biometric scanners, pumps and compressors, fittings of cast iron; vitamins and animal feed products; spring washers, disassembled goods, choline chloride, Methyl Sulfonyl Methane, polymer A576, vitamin B12 with carrier, lysine sulphate; etc.); dog chew; textile products, etc.; preparation of position paper in support of a classification of a product discussed at the EU Customs Code Committee.
  • Origin: About the preferential and non-preferential origin of goods (e.g., cosmetic products, chocolate, personal care products); requesting a binding origin information; obtaining licenses for approved exporter status;
  • Customs value: About the validity of the method used for customs valuation; corrections to the customs value; disputes on undervaluation (undervaluation of textiles; electronics; sports shoes; diamonds; perishable goods (fruits, vegetables); e-commerce, …); the relevance of unit prices.
  • Duty savings: About the working and processing of goods in the EU to avoid anti-dumping duties on importation;
  • Customs procedures: Including the sale of goods in customs warehouse between license holders in the context of a merger; obtain a license inward processing; the discharge of the transit regime; the transfer of goods between temporary storage facilities; obtaining approved exporter status for exports to partner countries.

Mr Patricio Diaz Gavier represents his clients in excise disputes against the administration of customs and excise duties. Examples of recent matters include:

  • Designer fuels;
  • E-commerce of excise goods;
  • The sale of cigarettes against a price superior to the maximum authorized price;
  • Alleged excise fraud – fictitious sending and receiving of excise goods;
  • Withdrawal of excise goods from the excise suspension regime;
  • Movement of goods without e-ad or with an incorrect e-ad;
  • Irregular movement of excise goods;
  • Shortage of excise goods upon arrival at destination;
  • Common storage of gas oil;
  • Removal of excise goods before verification;
  • Exportation of excise good prior to filing export declaration;
  • Annulment of an electronic accompanying document after starting the movement of goods;
  • Change of destination of excise goods;
  • The receiver rejects the excise goods;
  • The marking of excise goods;
  • Theft of excise goods from excise warehouse;
  • Non-payment of excise duties after receipt thereof;
  • Withdrawal of excise license for alcoholic beverages with seizure of the available goods;
  • Withdrawal of excise license to manufacture and store fruit juices;
  • Conclusion of settlement agreements with the administration of customs and excise duties;
  • Obtaining warehouse licenses for the storage of excise goods.