THE DUTCH SUPREME COURT's RULING ON TONER CARTRIDGES

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THE DUTCH SUPREME COURT's RULING ON TONER CARTRIDGES

 user 2009-07-14 at 11:34:12 am Views: 41
  • #22765
    http://eccustoms.blogspot.com/
    THE DUTCH SUPREME COURT’s RULING ON TONER CARTRDIGES
    Dutch Supreme Court-Toner Cartridges Customs Classification

    The
    Dutch Supreme Court puts aside the WCO classification opinions and
    upholds the CN-classification of toner cartridges under heading 3707
    (toner).

    JULY 2009, the
    Supreme Court delivered a judgment referring to the classification in
    the Combined Nomenclature (“CN”) of toner cartridges for photocopying
    apparatus. The Supreme Court ruled that the toner cartridge in question
    is to be classified under CN heading 3707 and furthermore explicitly
    stipulated that the classification opinions of the World Customs
    Organisation (“WCO”) are to be set aside as far as these are
    incompatible with the wording of the concerned heading of the CN or if
    they go manifestly beyond the discretion conferred on the WCO.

    Factual background
    The
    matter concerned the CN classification of a toner cartridge containing
    a chemical substance (i.e. toner) necessary for the photographic
    process in specific photocopying apparatus.In specific, the toner
    cartridge in question has the following objectives and
    characteristics:“The product is a toner cartridge, comprising of a
    plastic housing in the form of a cylinder (approximate measurements:
    length of 23 cm and cross-cut of 9 cm), filled with powder i.e. the
    toner. The upper side of the product has a conical form and a narrow
    filling opening at its end, which can be sealed by a screw top. The
    under side of the product is fitted on the outside and breadthwise with
    agigator ramps which ensure that the toner can flow from the cartridge.
    The product can solely be used in specific copying apparatus of Ricoh.
    Inside the copying apparatus, a green bracket holds the cartridge
    firmly to the copying apparatus. Due to an electrical motor in the
    copying apparatus, the cartridge is able to move clockwise enabling it
    to equally disparage the toner on to the magnetic roll.”The complainant
    classified the stated toner cartridge under CN heading 9009 90 00 (as
    being parts and accessories of photocopying apparatus), comprising a
    zero tariff duty in the year 2000. Due to an examination by the
    tax/customs authorities, the inspector concluded that the toner
    cartridge was to be classified under CN heading 3707 90 30 (as being
    chemical substances for photographic use), comprising a duty of 6%, and
    accordingly issued a demand for payment of customs duties. The Dutch
    Regional Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the inspector by confirming
    classification of the toner cartridge under CN heading 3707 90 30.

    The Supreme Court
    The
    complaints put forward at the Supreme Court referred among others to
    the fact that the Regional Court of Appeal, while basing its judgment,
    did not take into consideration the cited classification opinions of
    the WCO related to CN heading 9009 which refer to (toner) cartridges
    similar to those in question.With that regard, the Supreme Court
    stipulated that the notes and opinions of the WCO are an important aid
    to the interpretation of the scope of the various tariff headings but
    do not have legally binding effect to the contracting parties. These
    notes and opinions are to be put aside, as far as these are
    incompatible with the wording of the concerned heading of the CN or if
    they go manifestly beyond the discretion conferred on the
    WCO.[1]Moreover, the Supreme Court referred to the judgments of the
    European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) in the Turbon-cases[2], ruling that
    the stated classification reasoning in those judgments, by classifying
    ink cartridges under CN heading 3215, is equally applicable to the
    toner cartridges in question. This reasoning is applicable although the
    ECJ judgments in the Turbon-cases concern a different product (ink
    instead of toner) and different CN headings. Therefore, the Supreme
    Court concludes that the WCO classification opinions, which are dated
    before the ECJ judgments in the Turbon-cases, do not carry sufficient
    weight for the Supreme Court to rule otherwise.

    Conclusion
    The
    Supreme Court draws a clear line on the force in law of a
    classification opinion of the WCO in connection with the classifying of
    a product in the CN. In that regard, it can be concluded that an
    opinion issued by the WCO, on the classification of a certain product
    in its Harmonised System has no legally binding force and is no more
    than an indication assisting in the interpretation of the scope of the
    various tariff headings of the CN. If such a classification opinion is
    contrary to the wording of the heading in the CN, it must therefore be
    disregarded.