Judgment of the Court Second Chamber of 28 April 2022, Gräfendorfer Geflügel- und Tiefkühlfeinkost Produktions and Others, C-415/20, C-419/20 and C-427/20

Date28 April 2022
Judgment of the Court (Second Chamber) of 28 April 2022, Gräfendorfer Geflügel - und
Tiefkühlfeinkost Produktions and Others, C-415/20, C-419/20 and C-427/20
Link to the complete text of the judgment
Reference for a preliminary ruling Customs union Rights to the repayment or to the payment of sums
of money levied or refused by a Member State in breach of EU law Anti-dumping duties, import duties,
export refunds and financial penalties Concept of ‘breach of EU law’ Misinte rpretation or
misapplication of EU law Finding of a breach of EU law by a Court of the European Union or by a
national court Right to the payment of interest Period covered by that payment o f interest
The German customs authorities imposed on three companies established in Germany the payment
of various sums of money in connection with, respectively, the export of poultry carcasses to third
countries, the import of metal fasteners and the import of bolt hooks into the European Union. In
various actions, the German courts subsequently found that the measures adopted by the customs
authorities in respect of those three companies were based on an interpretation of provisions of EU
law which did not correspond to the Court’s case-law or on an incorrect application of those
Following those decisions, the competent customs authority paid the first company Gräfendorfer
(Case C-415/20) the export refunds initially refused to it and repaid it for the financial penalty
imposed on it in connection with that refusal, without, however, paying in terest on those sums. The
other two companies, Reyher (Case C-419/20) and Flexi Montagetechnik (Case C-427/20), obtained,
respectively, the repayment of the amounts of anti-dumping duties and of import duties which they
had paid. However, the customs authorities paid only part of the interest on those amounts, refusing
to pay interest, in the case of the second company, in respect of the period prior to the repayment
and, in the case of the third company, for the period prior to the date on which that company brought
legal proceedings.
Since none of the three companies obtained full payment of the interest claimed, each of them
brought an action before the Finanzgericht Hamburg (Finance Court, Hamburg, Germany). In that
context, that court raises several questions on the scope, in the present case, of the principles
identified by the Court in its case-law relating to the repayment of sums of money levied by Member
States in breach of EU law and to the payment of the corresponding interest.
With requests having been made for a preliminary ruling, the Court rules that those principles apply
inter alia, first, in respect of export refunds refused in breach of EU law and granted late and, second,
in respect of a financial penalty imposed as a result of such a breach. Furthermore, those principles
apply where it follows from a decision of the Court or a national court that the payment of such
export refunds, such a financial penalty, or anti-dumping or import duties has been refused or
imposed as a result of a breach of EU law, understood as an incorrect interpretation or incorrect
application of EU law. In such cases, national law cannot exclude from the payment of interest the
period prior to the bringing of legal proceedings seeking the payment or repayment of the sum of
money in question. However, under certain conditions, the payment of interest could possibly be
conditional on the bringing of such proceedings.
Findings of the Court
First of all, the Court recalls that, under the general principle of recovery of sums paid but not due,
any person on whom a national authority has imposed the payme nt of a tax, duty, charge or other
levy in breach of EU law has the right, under EU law, to obtain from the Member State concerned the
repayment of the sum of money levied though not due and the payment of interest intended to
compensate for the unavailability of that sum.
Those rights thus apply, inter alia, in respect of a financial penalty wrongly imposed by a national
authority pursuant to an act of EU law or provisions of national law adopted in order to implement

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