The concept of protection of legitimate expectations in EU administrative law theoretically exists almost in all European Member States in one form or other. At broader level, European Court of Justice has theoretically emphasized the significance of this concept. However, discrepancy arises where the practical decisions of the disputed case come into question. The claimant of protection demands substantive protection or at least procedural protection. The analysis of different administrative court cases show that substantive protection is rarely provided. The similar concept of protection of legitimate expectations is transplanted from EU administrative law to the European Customs Code.
The theoretical aspects of protection of legitimate expectations in the form of legal framework of Article 217 CCC in conjunction with Article 12 CCC and practical aspects of these articles in the form of ECJ cases depict that in most of the cases protection of legitimate expectations remains as under-achieved right. The legal framework of Article 220 (2) (b) CCC provides certain conditions under which a trader can claim protection. Under this article, most of the problems for subsequent recovery of customs duties arise due to origin certificate issued by the exporting country authorities under preferential trade agreement which later proved to be falsified and hence the importing customs authorities demand the payment of customs duties from the importer. However the analysis of different ECJ cases shows that the conditions of Article 220 (2) (b) CCC are strictly interlinked, interdependent and up to some extent unclear which ultimately did not provide protection of legitimate expectations in every case. Hence the “will? of legislative authority plays an important role in order to decide the cases.
The legal framework of Article 239 CCC refers to cases of remission and repayment with the conditions of special circumstances and absence of obvious negligence at the part of the trader. The analysis of renowned ECJ cases from last 20 years shows that Article 239 CCC acts as a gateway for providing the protection of legitimate expectations to the trader up to some extent. However there is still room for improvement for providing the substantive protection which can be expected to be fulfilled in the form of Union Customs Code (UCC).
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