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HMRC internal manual

Customs Authorisation and Approval

Customs Decisions in relation to authorisations and approvals: Right To Be Heard (RTBH)

Article 22(6) of the Code requires that, prior to taking a decision that would adversely affect the applicant, the customs authorities shall communicate the grounds, including a reference to the documents and information, on which they intend to base their decision to the applicant. 

A reference to the applicant’s right to access the information on which the decision will be based must also be included within the letter.  The applicant shall then be given the opportunity to express their view within a prescribed time limit.  This is known as the Right To Be Heard (RTBH) period.

The RTBH period in relation to authorisations and approvals is set at 30 days from the date on which the applicant receives notification of RTBH or is deemed to have received it.

It should be noted that any decision which has an adverse impact must follow the RTBH and adverse decision procedures.  This does not just mean outright rejection of an application, it would also include, for example:

·        A rejection of a request to amend an authorisation,

·        Extra conditions outside of the standard terms and conditions imposed on an economic operator to address specific weaknesses or risk, or

·        In the case of comprehensive guarantee application a decision to allow, for example a 50% guarantee reduction rather than an outright waiver (0%).

The template letter for communicating RTBH can be found in section CAA11050.

Where the applicant gives their point of view before the expiry of the RTBH period, the decision can be taken after the new information has been considered unless the applicant simultaneously states their intention to further express their point of view within this period.

If the applicant does not offer a point of view during this period the customs authorities may issue their decision.

The time limit for taking a decision, referred to in section CAA02040, is suspended during the RTBH period and only recommences once the RTBH has been concluded.  For example:

·        If the notification of RTBH is issued on day 115

·        The decision making office will have 5 days left after the RTBH period is ended

In these remaining 5 days, any new information provided by the applicant must be reviewed, a decision reached and notified to the applicant.

For applications where RTBH alters the intended decision, for instance, the authorisation or approval will now be granted, please refer to section CAA02110.

For applications where RTBH does not alter the intended decision, for instance the decision will still be an adverse one, please refer to section CAA02120