An article from Out-Law on 24th April reports on a Court of Appeal case in the UK, where the Court has decided to ask the Court of Justice of the European Union whether a lorry driver who is found to be carrying goods in respect of which excise duty has not been paid is liable to pay the duty under EU law, even if he did not know that the goods were being smuggled.  In 2013, a driver was stopped by Border Force at Dover docks, driving a lorry which he had brought from Calais containing pallets of beer, in respect of which excise duty had not been paid.  He knew he was carrying beer but did not know who owned the lorry, that duty had not been paid and that the documentation which accompanied the load related to a previous consignment.  The First-tier Tribunal found as a matter of fact that Perfect had neither actual nor constructive knowledge of the smuggling attempt.  Both it and Upper Tribunal decided that the driver could not be held liable for the unpaid excise duty on the goods.  HMRC appealed to the Court of Appeal, arguing that provided a lorry driver had knowledge that the goods being transported were excise goods, it did not matter that he had no actual or constructive knowledge of the attempt to evade tax on them, and that it did not need to be ‘fair and reasonable’ for Perfect to be made liable for the duty under EU law.


Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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