To whom should be claimed the costs of cargo seized by Courts?

To whom should be claimed the costs of cargo seized by Courts?

A few years ago, this issue was already dealt with in our Newsletter about “THE PROBLEM OF CONTAINERS / GOODS SEIZED BY SPANISH AUTHORITIES”.

The topic is in the limelight again. Custom Authorities in Spain are thoroughly controlling exports of vehicles and/or spare parts inside containers, especially to Africa. After Custom’s inspection, depending on cargo condition, a possible offence for illegal transfer of waste might be reported to a Criminal Court, and the goods be retained at Court’s disposal.

Recently, Muñoz & Montañés has obtained a favorable ruling in a claim against the Spanish Administration for the expenses generated by four containers, stuffed with counterfeit products seized in a criminal proceeding.

The items claimed were storage and demurrage expenses at the port, transport and handling expenses for transferring the cargo to a bonded warehouse, subsequent storage and destruction. These costs were generated from February 2012 to October 2015. It was a considerable amount.

The Judgment upholds the claim in full.

The rationale is as follows: The Ministry of Justice has to take care of what it is known as “corpus delicti”, for example, forgeries, spare parts or the weapon used in an assault. For this purpose, there are “judicial warehouses” across Spain. In an ideal world, as soon as the corpus delicti is retained at Judge’s disposal, it should be transferred to these warehouses.

In practice, when we talk about full containers or trucks loaded with illegal cargo, the above-mentioned does not happen, mainly because there is not enough space in such judicial warehouses.

What this ruling tells us is that whoever has been forced to bear the storage costs, and even disposal, has the right to claim them against the Administration, since, in the ideal world we were talking about, it should have been the Administration who have had to assume them in the first place.

Obviously, the expenses must be documentary evidenced.

It should be pointed out that it is not necessary to wait until the criminal proceedings are over to claim the reimbursement. As soon as the expenses cease and they are well documented, the claim can be initiated.

Muñoz & Montañés is looking forward to advice you in this type of matters and to manage the reimbursement of the expenses incurred.

Law firm specialized in maritime law, transport and international trade, with offices in Valencia and Bilbao, providing services throughout Spain.

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