Decision of Court (Fifth Section), September 16, 2014 (case JAKOB'S CENTER D.O.O. v. SLOVENIA)

Judge:TREBEC I.
Resolution Date:September 16, 2014
Issuing Organization:Court (Fifth Section)

FIFTH SECTION

DECISION

Application no. 17544/07JAKOB’S CENTER D.O.O.against Slovenia

The European Court of Human Rights (Fifth Section), sitting on 16 September 2014 as a Chamber composed of:

             Mark Villiger, President,              Angelika Nußberger,              Boštjan M. Zupančič,              Ann Power-Forde,              Vincent A. De Gaetano,              André Potocki,              Helena Jäderblom, judges,and Claudia Westerdiek, Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application lodged on 10 April 2007,

Having regard to the observations submitted by the respondent Government and the observations in reply submitted by the applicant,

Having deliberated, decides as follows:

THE FACTS

  1. The applicant, JAKOB’S CENTER d.o.o., is a private company with a registered office in Zgornji Brnik. It was represented before the Court by Mr I. Trebec, a lawyer practising in Sežana.

  2. The Slovenian Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Mrs T. Mihelič Žitko, State Attorney.

    The circumstances of the case

  3. The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.

  4. Background to the case

  5. At the time of the events at issue, the applicant company was acting as a forwarding agent and customs broker for import-export transit operations. In that capacity, it was liable for the payment of customs debts if they were incurred. In 1997, the company carried out a transit procedure for the importation of goods supposedly destined for Bosnia and Herzegovina; however, in reality the goods never reached their destination, but were placed on the Slovenian market. The operation formed part of a wider fraud involving at least one customs official, P.K., and a number of other persons. Once the fraud had been detected, the customs debt incurred as a result of the fact that the goods had not left the national territory was imposed on the applicant company as the principal actor in the transit procedure.

  6. On 7 April 1998, the applicant company paid 2,265,033.00 Slovenian tolars (SIT) (approximately 9,452 euros (EUR)) and on 17 November 1998 it paid SIT 1,810,855.00 (approximately EUR 7,557). Although it was not disputed by the authorities that the applicant company was the victim of fraudulent activities by third parties, it could not relieve itself of that liability.

  7. The applicant company challenged its liability for the payment of the debt. The Customs Administration of the Republic of Slovenia...

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