Paris - Bastia - Porto-Vecchio

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BREXIT: the opportunity to revise contracts of sale of goods

At the time of writing, there is still no trade agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom, which will become a third country as of January 1, 2021.

From January 1, 2021, trade with the United Kingdom will therefore be treated as imports or exports, which will entail additional obligations for companies (customs declarations, sanitary and phytosanitary controls, reorganization of logistics, documentation), not to mention customs duties in the event of a "no deal".

To control the costs associated with these obligations, companies will have to revise their commercial contracts if they want to remain competitive and preserve their trade margins.

Particular attention will have to be paid to the choice of INCOTERM, the clauses governing transport and/or logistics, contractual liability, the duty to advise, the adaptation of products to the new normative and certification framework, and the applicable jurisdiction.

BREXIT. What are the "systemic" consequences for Franco-European companies?

The exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union is effective since January 1, 2020. On 1 January 2021, after a one-year transition period, companies will have to adapt their practices and organizations in advance, as part of their exchanges with the United Kingdom.

These changes are inevitable, regardless of the outcome of the ongoing negotiations between the EU and the United Kingdom.

Thus, as of January 1, 2021, the United Kingdom will be considered a third country by Community Customs.  Although certain uncertainties have not yet been resolved, trade in commercial goods will therefore be qualified, as of January 1, 2021, as exports and imports, whether definitive (simply leaving Community territory and being released for consumption) or temporary (with the use of special customs procedures). The provision of services will also be impacted.

This is not, strictly speaking, a revolution. Buying or selling tangible goods in the United Kingdom, from this date, will be similar to commercial transactions carried out with the USA (in the case of a "no deal") or with Switzerland (in the case of an association agreement). However, this change will be disruptive, particularly for SMEs and ETIs that are not familiar with this type of transaction.

The accomplice of an evasion of customs supervision is liable for the customs debt.

The evasion of customs supervision of goods liable to import duties gives rise to a customs debt. Persons who participated in such evasion knowing, or ought reasonably to have known, that it was such evasion are liable for the debt.

In application of the provisions of article 79 of the CDU (Customs Code of the Union), the debtor of the customs debt is in fact :

Access to customs data (Article 65 quindecies of the Customs Code)

In addition to the general right of communication, which allows customs officers to demand papers and documents of any kind from individuals and companies, customs has a specific right of communication concerning connection data, provided for in Article 65 quindecies of the Customs Code, in order to combat cyber-crime.

Article published on "Village de la Justice"

Article 63 ter of the customs code: access to business premises

Customs officers shall have, pursuant to the provisions of Article 63b, a right of access to premises and places of business.

The implementation of this prerogative of control requires the prior information of the public prosecutor, who may oppose it.


Marie-Paule DIONISI-NAUDIN est avocate d’affaires, spécialisée en droit fiscal et droit douanier.



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Avocat spécialiste

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