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Judgment of the Court of 26 February 1980. - Firma Hako-Schuh Dietrich Bahner v Hauptzollamt de Frankfurt am Main-Ost. - Reference for a preliminary ruling: Hessisches Finanzgericht - Germany. - Tariff classification - Footwear. - Case 54/79.



European Court reports 1980 Page 00311

Greek special edition Page 00165



Summary

Parties

Subject of the case

Grounds

Decision on costs

Operative part

Keywords



1 . COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF - TARIFF HEADINGS - CLASSIFICATION OF GOODS - CRITERIA - DISTINCTION BETWEEN PRODUCTS UNDER TARIFF HEADINGS 64.02 , 64.03 AND 64.04

2 . COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF - TARIFF HEADINGS - INTERPRETATION - EXPLANATORY NOTES TO THE COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF - AUTHORITY

3 . COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF - TARIFF HEADINGS - FOOTWEAR WITH OUTER SOLES OF RUBBER WITHIN THE MEANING OF TARIFF HEADING 64.02 - CONCEPT

Summary



1 . IT IS APPARENT FROM TARIFF HEADINGS 64.02 , 64.03 AND 64.04 OF THE COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF THAT THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN PRODUCTS FALLING UNDER ONE OR THE OTHER HEADING DEPENDS BASICALLY ONLY ON THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE OUTER SOLE , THAT IS TO SAY THE PART OF THE FOOTWEAR IN DIRECT CONTACT WITH THE GROUND .

2 . ALTHOUGH THE EXPLANATORY NOTES TO THE COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF CANNOT MODIFY THE TEXT OF THAT TARIFF , THEY NEVERTHELESS CONSTITUTE AN IMPORTANT FACTOR IN ITS INTERPRETATION ENABLING THE SCOPE OF THE VARIOUS TARIFF HEADINGS OR SUBHEADINGS TO BE DEFINED OR CLARIFIED .

3 . FOOTWEAR WITH OUTER SOLES OF HEMPEN ROPE , 57% OF THE SURFACE OF WHICH IS REINFORCED WITH RUBBER AT THE TOE , JOINT AND HEEL , MUST BE CLASSIFIED AS FOOTWEAR WITH OUTER SOLES OF RUBBER UNDER HEADING 64.02 OF THE COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF AND , HAVING REGARD TO THE MATERIAL OF WHICH THE UPPERS ARE MADE , UNDER SUBHEADING B OF THAT HEADING .

Parties



IN CASE 54/79

REFERENCE TO THE COURT UNDER ARTICLE 177 OF THE EEC TREATY BY THE HESSISCHES FINANZGERICHT ( FINANCE COURT , HESSEN ) FOR A PRELIMINARY RULING IN THE ACTION PENDING BEFORE THAT COURT BETWEEN

FIRMA HAKO-SCHUH DIETRICH BAHNER , AUGSBURG ,

AND

Subject of the case



HAUPTZOLLAMT ( PRINCIPAL CUSTOMS OFFICE ) FRANKFURT AM MAIN-OST , ON THE INTERPRETATION OF HEADING 64.02 OF THE COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF ,

Grounds



1 BY ORDER DATED 13 MARCH 1979 , RECEIVED AT THE COURT OF JUSTICE ON 9 APRIL 1979 , THE HESSISCHES FINANZGERICHT ( SEVENTH SENATE ) PUT THE FOLLOWING QUESTION TO THE COURT UNDER ARTICLE 177 OF THE EEC TREATY :

' ' CAN FOOTWEAR WITH OUTER SOLES OF HEMP , APPROXIMATELY HALF THE AREA OF WHICH IS PROVIDED WITH A RUBBER REINFORCEMENT , BE CLASSIFIED AS ' FOOTWEAR WITH OUTER SOLES OF RUBBER ' UNDER HEADING 64.02 OF THE COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF?

' '

2 IT APPEARS FROM THE PARTICULARS CONTAINED IN THE ORDER MAKING THE REFERENCE THAT THE FOOTWEAR IN QUESTION IS ESPADRILLES IMPORTED FROM SPAIN HAVING FABRIC UPPERS AND HEMPEN ROPE SOLES WHICH HAVE A COATING OF RUBBER AT THE TOE , JOINT AND HEEL . THE ORDER OF THE GERMAN COURT ALSO STATES THAT THE RUBBER COATING COVERS 57% OF THE SOLE . THE IMPORTER ' S CUSTOMS DECLARATIONS STATED THAT THE FOOTWEAR WAS FOOTWEAR WITH OUTER SOLES OF ROPE COMING UNDER HEADING 64.04 , WHICH , FOR IMPORTS FROM SPAIN , INVOLVES A DUTY OF 2.8% . THE CUSTOMS OFFICE ON THE OTHER HAND CONSIDERED THAT THE FOOTWEAR CAME UNDER SUBHEADING 64.02 B INVOLVING FOR THIS IMPORTATION A DUTY OF 12% . THE HESSISCHES FINANZGERICHT REFERRED TO THE COURT THE AFOREMENTIONED QUESTION FOR A PRELIMINARY RULING TO SETTLE THE QUESTION OF TARIFF CLASSIFICATION .

3 SUBHEADING 64.02 B OF THE COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF APPLIES INTER ALIA TO FOOTWEAR WITH ONLY THE OUTER SOLES OF RUBBER OR ARTIFICIAL PLASTIC MATERIAL AND NOT HAVING UPPERS OF LEATHER . TARIFF HEADING 64.04 COMPRISES FOOTWEAR WITH OUTER SOLES OF OTHER MATERIALS SUCH AS TWINE OR ROPE , PAPERBOARD , TEXTILE FABRIC , FELT , STRAW ETC . IT THUS APPEARS FROM THE STRUCTURE OF THESE TWO TARIFF HEADINGS THAT THE DISTINCTIVE CRITERION ON WHICH THEY ARE BASED RELATES SOLELY TO THE MATERIAL OF WHICH THE OUTER SOLE OF THE FOOTWEAR IS MADE : RUBBER OR ARTIFICIAL PLASTIC MATERIAL AS REGARDS HEADING 64.02 AND MATERIAL OTHER THAN RUBBER , PLASTIC , LEATHER , WOOD OR CORK AS REGARDS HEADING 64.04 .

4 AS REGARDS ' ' MIXTURES ' ' SUCH AS THOSE IN THE PRESENT CASE , RULE A 3 ( B ) OF THE RULES FOR THE INTERPRETATION OF THE NOMENCLATURE OF THE COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF PROVIDES THAT COMPOSITE GOODS CONSISTING OF DIFFERENT MATERIALS WHICH CANNOT BE CLASSIFIED BY REFERENCE TO RULE 3 ( A ), WHICH RELATES TO THE CRITERION OF THE MOST SPECIFIC HEADING , ' ' SHALL BE CLASSIFIED AS IF THEY CONSISTED OF THE MATERIAL . . . WHICH GIVES THE GOODS THEIR ESSENTIAL CHARACTER , IN SO FAR AS THIS CRITERION IS APPLICABLE ' ' . IN THE INTERESTS OF LEGAL CERTAINTY IT IS THE OBJECTIVE CHARACTERISTICS AND PROPERTIES OF PRODUCTS WHICH , AS A GENERAL RULE , PROVIDE THE DECISIVE CRITERION FOR THEIR CLASSIFICATION .

5 IN THE PRESENT CASE IT IS APPARENT FROM TARIFF HEADINGS 64.02 , 64.03 AND 64.04 THAT THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN PRODUCTS FALLING UNDER ONE OR THE OTHER HEADING DEPENDS BASICALLY ONLY ON THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE OUTER SOLE , THAT IS TO SAY THE PART OF THE FOOTWEAR IN DIRECT CONTACT WITH THE GROUND . IN ACCORDANCE WITH THIS CRITERION OF CLASSIFICATION , THE EXPLANATORY NOTES TO THE COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF PROVIDE AS REGARDS FOOTWEAR OF SUBHEADING 64.02 B :

' ' THIS SUBHEADING INCLUDES FOOTWEAR OF THE ESPADRILLE TYPE HAVING OUTER SOLES OF ROPE COVERED AT THE TOE , THE HEEL , THE MIDDLE PART AND ALL ROUND THE EDGE , WITH RUBBER OR ARTIFICIAL PLASTIC MATERIAL . . .

THE SUBHEADING ALSO COVERS FOOTWEAR OF THIS TYPE HAVING OUTER SOLES OF ROPE COVERED AT THE HEEL AND MOST OF THE FORE-PART OF THE SOLE WITH RUBBER OR ARTIFICIAL PLASTIC MATERIAL . . . . ' '

THE SAME EXPLANATORY NOTES STATE AS REGARDS FOOTWEAR OF HEADING 64.04 :

' ' THIS HEADING COVERS FOOTWEAR OF THE ESPADRILLE TYPE HAVING OUTER SOLES OF ROPE , EVEN IF THE TOE AND THE HEEL , OR THE TOE , THE HEEL AND THE MIDDLE PART ARE COVERED WITH RUBBER OR ARTIFICIAL PLASTIC MATERIAL . . .

SOME FOOTWEAR OF THIS TYPE MUST , HOWEVER , BE CLASSIFIED UNDER SUBHEADING 64.02 B . SUCH IS THE CASE , IN PARTICULAR , WITH FOOTWEAR HAVING OUTER SOLES COVERED AT THE TOE , THE HEEL , THE MIDDLE PART AND ALL ROUND THE EDGE , OR AT THE HEEL AND MOST OF THE FORE-PART OF THE SOLE , WITH RUBBER OR ARTIFICIAL PLASTIC MATERIAL ( SEE EXPLANATORY NOTES TO SUBHEADING 64.02 B ). ' '

6 AS THE COURT STATED IN ITS JUDGMENT OF 8 MAY 1974 ( CASE 183/73 OSRAM ( 1974 ) ECR 477 ) ALTHOUGH THE EXPLANATORY NOTES TO THE COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF CANNOT MODIFY THE TEXT OF THAT TARIFF , THEY NEVERTHELESS CONSTITUTE AN IMPORTANT FACTOR IN ITS INTERPRETATION ENABLING THE SCOPE OF THE VARIOUS TARIFF HEADINGS OR SUBHEADINGS TO BE DEFINED OR CLARIFIED . IN THE PRESENT CASE IT APPEARS FROM THE NOTES THAT FOR FOOTWEAR OF HEADING 64.04 THE COATING OF RUBBER OR ARTIFICIAL PLASTIC MATERIAL COVERS THE TOE , THE HEEL AND POSSIBLY THE MIDDLE PART OF THE OUTER SOLE WHEREAS FOR FOOTWEAR CLASSIFIED UNDER SUBHEADING 64.02 B IT COVERS , APART FROM THOSE PLACES , ' ' ALL ROUND THE EDGE ' ' OF THE OUTER SOLE AND MOREOVER EXTENDS TO THE PARTS OF THE SOLE IN DIRECT CONTACT WITH THE GROUND . WITH THESE PARTICULARS THE NOTES IN QUESTION THUS CONFIRM THAT THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN PRODUCTS OF HEADING 64.02 AND THOSE OF HEADING 64.04 IS ESSENTIALLY BASED ON THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE OUTER SOLE AND THAT , IN ACCORDANCE WITH THAT CRITERION , THE CLASSIFICATION OF FOOTWEAR WITH ROPE OUTER SOLES REINFORCED WITH RUBBER DEPENDS UPON THE EXTENT AND AREA COVERED BY SUCH REINFORCEMENT ON THE PARTS OF THE OUTER SOLE IN DIRECT CONTACT WITH THE GROUND . WHEN THE RUBBER REINFORCEMENT COVERS THE SURFACE OF THE OUTER SOLE TO SUCH AN EXTENT THAT THE PARTS OF THE SOLE MOST SUBJECT TO WEAR HAVE A STRENGTH AND DURABILITY COMPARABLE TO THAT OF A RUBBER SOLE , THE REINFORCEMENT GIVES THE SOLE TO WHICH IT IS APPLIED CHARACTERISTICS AND A FUNCTION SIMILAR TO THAT OF A RUBBER SOLE AND RESULT IN SUCH A ' ' MIXTURE ' ' BEING ASSIMILATED , FOR TARIFF PURPOSES , TO FOOTWEAR OF HEADING 64.02 OF THE COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF .

7 THE NATIONAL COURT REFERS IN ITS QUESTION TO FOOTWEAR OF THE ESPADRILLE TYPE HAVING A FABRIC UPPER AND HEMPEN ROPE OUTER SOLE WHICH HAS A COATING OF RUBBER AT THE TOE , JOINT AND HEEL WHICH COVERS 57% OF THE TOTAL SURFACE LEAVING 43% UNCOVERED . HAVING REGARD TO ITS EXTENT IN RELATION TO THE SURFACE OF THE SOLE IN DIRECT CONTACT WITH THE GROUND , SUCH RUBBER REINFORCEMENT GIVES THE OUTER SOLE THE CHARACTERISTICS AND FUNCTION OF A RUBBER SOLE . BECAUSE OF THIS IT JUSTIFIES ASSIMILATING THE SAID FOOTWEAR , FOR CUSTOMS PURPOSES , TO ' ' FOOTWEAR WITH OUTER SOLES OF RUBBER ' ' WITHIN THE MEANING OF HEADING 64.02 .

8 FOR THESE REASONS IT IS NECESSARY TO ANSWER THE NATIONAL COURT THAT FOOTWEAR WITH OUTER SOLES OF HEMPEN ROPE , 57% OF THE SURFACE OF WHICH IS REINFORCED WITH RUBBER AT THE TOE , JOINT AND HEEL , MUST BE CLASSIFIED AS FOOTWEAR WITH OUTER SOLES OF RUBBER UNDER HEADING 64.02 OF THE COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF AND , HAVING REGARD TO THE MATERIAL OF WHICH THE UPPERS ARE MADE , UNDER SUBHEADING B OF THAT HEADING .

Decision on costs



COSTS

9 THE COSTS INCURRED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC , THE GOVERNMENT OF THE ITALIAN REPUBLIC AND THE COMMISSION OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES , WHICH HAVE SUBMITTED WRITTEN OBSERVATIONS TO THE COURT , ARE NOT RECOVERABLE . AS THE PROCEEDINGS ARE , IN SO FAR AS THE PARTIES TO THE MAIN ACTION ARE CONCERNED , IN THE NATURE OF A STEP IN THE ACTION PENDING BEFORE THE NATIONAL COURT , THE DECISION ON COSTS IS A MATTER FOR THAT COURT .

Operative part



ON THOSE GROUNDS ,

THE COURT

IN ANSWER TO THE QUESTION PUT BY THE HESSISCHES FINANZGERICHT BY AN ORDER OF 13 MARCH 1979 HEREBY RULES :

FOOTWEAR WITH OUTER SOLES OF HEMPEN ROPE , 57% OF THE SURFACE OF WHICH IS REINFORCED WITH RUBBER AT THE TOE , JOINT AND HEEL , MUST BE CLASSIFIED AS FOOTWEAR WITH OUTER SOLES OF RUBBER UNDER HEADING 64.02 OF THE COMMON CUSTOMS TARIFF AND , HAVING REGARD TO THE MATERIAL OF WHICH THE UPPERS ARE MADE , UNDER SUBHEADING B OF THAT HEADING .