Purpose and coherence

Hurley v Collector of Customs [2022] FCAFC 92

Imported alcohol went into home consumption under a permission allowing deferral of duty.  When duty went unpaid, payment demands were served3.  It was conceded H had ‘possession, custody or control’ of the goods, & they were ‘subject to customs control’.

The issue was whether he had failed ‘to keep the goods safely’.  It was held this was irrelevant on the facts, as the goods went into home consumption consistent with a permission.  Something adverse (like loss or destruction) must happen to the goods in question4.  To hold otherwise, said the court (at [84]), would undermine the purpose of the permission system and coherence of the statute5.

This principle is from Episode 86 of interpretation NOW!


3 s 35A(1) of the Customs Act 1901.

4 Southern Shipping (1962) 107 CLR 279 (at 287 etc), cf Zappia [2018] HCA 54.

5 An application for special leave has been filed in the High Court.