Assessment powers in particular excise regimes: deficiencies in warehoused goods who to assess
Who to assess
When assessing under section 94(3)(b), a choice has to be made whether to assess the warehousekeeper or the proprietor of the goods. (Only one may be assessed.)
In cases where there is a simple loss or deficiency, the warehousekeeper should be assessed as they have failed to ensure the safe-keeping of the goods.
For unlawful removals, the warehousekeeper should be assessed where it is clear that they did not comply with all their legal responsibilities, for example, by not ensuring that a guarantee is in place, that the movement documentation is correctly completed or that the consignee is approved to receive the goods.
The owner (as proprietor) should be assessed in cases where it is clear that they directed the movement, hired the transporter and were likely to be aware that the goods did not reach their stated destination.
Given the legal responsibilities of warehousekeepers, we would expect proprietors to be assessed only in exceptional circumstances.
Goods lawfully removed from warehouse
CEMA section 94 deals with deficiencies in warehoused goods. Section 95 applies section 94 to the situation where goods
‘have been lawfully permitted to be taken from a warehouse without payment of duty for removal to another warehouse or to some other place’.
This provides the power to assess for losses or deficiencies in UK movements - including removals for export to third countries - where the loss or deficiency is not accidental or due to natural causes.
Section 95 also modifies section 94 so that only the proprietor may be assessed in such cases.
Provisions in other legislation deal with irregularities occurring during intra-EU movements. The general powers in Finance Act 1994 section 12 provides the power to assess in such cases.