The evasion of customs supervision of goods liable to import duties gives rise to a customs debt. Persons who participated in such evasion knowing, or ought reasonably to have known, that it was such evasion are liable for the debt.
In application of the provisions of article 79 of the CDU (Customs Code of the Union), the debtor of the customs debt is in fact :
a) any person called upon to fulfil the obligations in question ;
(b) any person who knew or ought reasonably to have known that an obligation under the customs legislation was not fulfilled and who acted on behalf of the person who was required to fulfil the obligation or who participated in the act giving rise to the non-fulfilment of the obligation ;
(c) any person who acquired or held the goods in question and who knew or ought reasonably to have known, at the time of acquiring or receiving the goods, that an obligation under the customs legislation was not fulfilled.
In a decision of March 18, 2020, the Court of Cassation considers that the president of a company, recipient of a copy of an email indicating that goods from Tunisia and Morocco circulating under external transit, had not been received at the premises of the customs commissioner in charge of carrying out customs formalities, which made it impossible to carry out the customs control that was a condition for exemption from customs duties, participated in the evasion of customs supervision.
The Commission considers that this infringement does not imply the performance of material acts.
The president was therefore ordered to pay the customs debt as soon as the company had been put into judicial liquidation.
This decision was handed down under the former Article 203 of the Community Customs Code. It would be identical under article 79 of the CDU, which contains similar provisions.
Cass. com, March 18, 2020, No. 17-10.898