Importer Challenges The Legality of China SEC 301 Duties In Court

Posted on Oct 6

10/06/2020

On September 15, we advised our clients of an opportunity to file a claim in The Court of International Trade (CIT) regarding the appropriateness of the China Section 301 duties imposed on List 3 and List 4A products.

At that time, U.S. importers across the country were advised that the deadline for filing their own complaint was Friday, September 18 – this created a furious rush for interested importers everywhere to file their claims and so far it has been reported that as many as 3500 importers joined in this challenge and filed claims in the CIT.

Since then, many law firms across the country have stated that they believe the opportunity still exists to file a claim for List 3 products despite the two year ending having closed on September 18, 2020.

Note that List 4A claims will not be questioned for timeliness if filed on or before August 19, 2021, or two years after the List 4A duties were initiated. The issue of the timeliness of the claim has to do with the interpretation of the regulation which governs this action. Without wandering too far off into the weeds, 28 USC 2636(i) states that the plaintiff must commence action within two years after the cause of action first accrues. Since List 3 duties were imposed on September 18, 2018, the two year period would have ended on September 18, 2020, hence the mad rush.

Several of the trade law firms now believe that there is a compelling argument to make that the two year window should be from when the actual duties were paid, and not from September 18, 2018.

With this being said, if you are still interested in joining the challenge, there may still be an opportunity to do so. None of this is guaranteed, of course, and litigation such as this can take a long time, however, if it is something you would like to pursue, you should contact a Customs Law firm who has standing in the CIT, and they can assist you in filing a claim.

If you would like to discuss this with us further, please email Rick Walker (rwalker@valexander.com).

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09/15/2020

Importer Files Lawsuit In The CIT to Challenge The Legality of China SEC 301 Duties

Late yesterday afternoon, several law firms specializing in Customs and Trade Law announced pending litigation in the Court of International Trade regarding the legality of China Section 301 duties for List 3 and List 4A goods. In the complaint, the lead plaintiffs, HMTX Industries LLC and two of its subsidiaries are requesting an order that the duty assessments be voided and that all Section 301 amounts paid by the importers be refunded. If this litigation is successful, it could result in refunds of all Section 301 tariffs levied to date on List 3 and List 4A goods from China, regardless of whether or not a timely protest was filed.

Other importers also have the opportunity to join this challenge and preserve their rights to such refunds by filing their own timely complaint.

The window of opportunity is very narrow however, and importers must file their own independent claims with the CIT to preserve their potential refunds by Friday, Sept. 18.

While there are no guarantees that this litigation will be successful or how long it might to wind its way through the court, the clock is ticking, so if you think you may be interested in joining the challenge you should act now and contact a Customs lawyer immediately.

Please contact your V. Alexander account team with any questions and follow us on our website www.valexander.com for updates on this and other topics.

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