April 01
Anjum Shabbir
26th March 2020
Internal Market

CJEU holds that Implementing Regulation 2016/1140 is invalid concerning classification of self-heating patches and belts to relieve pain

Implementing Regulation 2016/1140 (concerning the classification of certain goods in the Combined Nomenclature) has been ruled to be invalid by the Court of Justice today in Pfizer Consumer Healthcare (C-182/19), a case between Pfizer and the UK’s HMRC.

By the Commission’s classification of products imported by Pfizer – self-heating patches and belts to relieve pain – in subheading 3824 90 96 of the Combined Nomenclature (CN), and not heading 3005, the Court finds that the Commission has altered the subject matter of those tariff headings and has exceeded the discretionary powers it has under Article 57(4) of the Customs Code. The products covered by that Implementing Regulation in fact fall within heading 3005 of the CN.

The Court of Justice came to that conclusion by examining the objective characteristics and properties as defined in the wording of the CN heading and in the section and chapter notes (where available), the intended use of the product if inherent to the product – to generate heat as a result of an exothermic reaction, and the concept of ‘medical purposes’. It clarified that the latter, which is not defined in the CN or its explanatory notes, requires taking account all the relevant factors, and should be interpreted according to its meaning in everyday language and its context. In this case the products did qualify as being for ‘medical purposes’ because the products intend ‘to relieve pain by generating heat’, as a ’form of therapeutic heat therapy, which is recognised as a treatment’. In support of that, it also pointed out that the products were classified as an ‘active medical device’ under Medical Devices Directive 93/42.

To read the full judgment, click here.


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