As the customs system of the Eurasian Economic Union has undergone significant changes in recent years, the Russian case-law on many customs issues has become largely outdated. It is in this context that the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation adopted a resolution clarifying some controversial issues of the practical application of the requirements of customs regulations by the courts. We consider below the key aspects of Resolution No. 18 dated 12 May 2016.
The Plenum, first and foremost, has established that the method for determining the customs value of imported goods must be based on their actual value, which should as much as possible reflect the contract price of the goods.
Accordingly, persons declaring the customs value of imported goods must confirm that the declared information corresponds to reality. Moreover, the courts must presume the correctness of the information provided by the declarant. If such information is verified, the customs authorities are required to give the declarant an opportunity to clear any doubts. The customs authorities have to provide full details of the grounds on which the information was considered insufficient. Thus, the onus of rebuttal of the presumption of correctness of the information provided by the declarant for the purposes of justifying the customs value of imported goods rests entirely on the customs authorities.
At the same time, even in cases when the customs authorities accept the customs value declared by the declarant, this will not deprive them of the right to make customs checks of the goods after clearance.
The Plenum has also established a new procedure for refunding tax and customs duty overpayments. Under this procedure, any refund claim will only be considered if the declarant made the relevant changes in its declaration either when filing the refund claim or before such filing.
Finally, the Plenum has confirmed that if customs duties are overpaid by the declarant, interest will accrue on the relevant amount from the date following its payment until the date of its refund.
Overall, the adoption of this resolution conveys the idea that the state control in the customs field is weakening. It should therefore have a rather positive impact on the activities of international trade players.