Adv. Gill Nadel
Our firm recently succeeded in achieving a landmark decision in a case in which we are representing a car importer.
The main dispute in the case is whether the value of a spare tire should be included in the valuation of imported vehicles, when the spare tire is acquired and installed in Israel after the completion of the import process. The implication is an increase in the duty rate of the spare tire, to the same duty rate as an imported vehicle.
During the deliberations, Custom refused to disclose documents relevant to the case, arguing that they are internal records and are therefore confidential.
The importer turned to the court, requesting that it orders the Custom to disclose the documents. The Custom submitted the documents to the court's review, so that the court may determine whether it accepts the Custom argument.
The District Court rejected the Custom attempt to label any document that may harm its defense as an "internal record", and ordered a broad disclosure of documents labeled as internal records, including internal emails and notes between Custom officials relating to the vehicles; results of examinations conducted by the Custom on assembly tools; and more.
It is important to note that the court also ruled that a vague concern by the Custom regarding exposure of work and investigation methods does not constitute sufficient cause for imposing a blanket confidentiality upon all content of an investigation.
This means that not every document labeled as an internal record / correspondence by the Custom will be automatically protected by the court, in all probability due to the new Civil Procedure Regulations, which mandate a broad document disclosure between the parties, even if they may be 'harmful' documents.
On a side note, the Custom requested that the court order the plaintiff to obtain documents and information from a third party that is not part of the dispute, and transfer that information to the Custom. The court rejected the request, ruling that the plaintiff cannot be forced to turn to a third party, and the Custom must employ the common practice in such cases and issue a third-party notice.
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The above review is a summary. The information presented is for informative purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice.
For more information, please contact Adv. Gill Nadel, Head of the Import, Export and International Trade Law Practice.
Email: Gill.Nadel@goldfarb.com Phone: +972-3-6089979.