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  • Interpretation
  • No.521
  • Date
  • 2001/02/09
  • Issue
    • Are the generalized provisions of the Customs Smuggling Control Act that punish false declaration of the cargo’s country of origin in violation of the Constitution?
  • Holding
    •       The principle of clarity and definiteness of law does not simply determine the form of the law whose textual significations should be specific and exhaustive.  The legislators may still formulate appropriate provisions by using generalized clauses of law after considering the complexity of the circumstances of life regulated by the law and the appropriateness of such law as applied to a specific case.  This Court has elaborated on the foregoing in J.Y. Interpretation No. 432.  In order to ensure that importers make honest declarations as to the matters relating to imported cargoes so as to carry through the implementation of applicable laws and regulations, Article 37-I of the Customs Smuggling Control Act generally provides that “any other illegal conduct” shall also be punishable in addition to the false declarations of the descriptions, quantities and other matters of or relating to the cargoes as provided in the first three subparagraphs of said article.  This general clause of law refers to the kind of matters relating to the declaration of imported goods that are in violation of the law and are similar to the false declarations described in the first three subparagraphs of said article.  In respect of the punishment regarding the false declaration of the country of origin for imported cargo, it deeply concerns the enforcement of the customs’ anti-smuggling activities, trade control and other related rules, which is not only made clear after examining the provisions of Articles 1, 3 and 4 of the Customs Smuggling Control Act, Articles 5 and 11 of the Trade Act and Article 35 of the Act Governing Relations between Peoples of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, but is also essential to the enforcement of the laws and regulations concerning the customs’ anti-smuggling activities and trade control.  As such, it is consistent with the legislative intent of the Customs Smuggling Control Act and, insofar as it does not the aforesaid boundary, it is not in conflict with Article 23 of the Constitution.  As for the punishment provided in Articles 36 and 37 of the Customs Smuggling Control Act, an actor’s liability should still be conditioned upon his or her intention or negligence.  It should also be pointed out that, in this respect, J.Y. Interpretation No. 275 shall apply.
      
  • Reasoning
    •       The principle of clarity and definiteness of law does not simply determine the form of the law whose textual significations should be specific and exhaustive.  The legislators, in devising legislation to establish a system, may still formulate appropriate provisions by using indefinite concepts of law or generalized clauses of law after considering the complexity of the circumstances of life regulated by the law and the appropriateness of such law as applied to a specific case.  Where abstract concepts are used in legislation in respect of the behavioral criteria for the regulated class and the punishment, they should not be considered to run counter to the aforesaid principle if the meanings thereof are neither incomprehensible nor unforeseeable to the regulated class, which may also be confirmed by means of judicial review.  This Court has elaborated on the foregoing in J.Y. Interpretation No. 432.
      
    •       In order to ensure that importers make honest declarations as to the matters relating to imported cargoes so as to accomplish the implementation of applicable laws and regulations, Article 37-I of the Customs Smuggling Control Act generally provides that “any other illegal conduct” shall also be punishable in addition to the false declarations of the descriptions, quantities and other matters of or relating to the cargoes as provided in the first three subparagraphs of said article.  This general clause of law refers to the kind of matters relating to the declaration of imported goods that are in violation of the law and are similar to the false declarations described in the first three subparagraphs of said article, which is only natural when it comes to teleological interpretation.
      
    •       Articles 1, 3 and 4 of the Customs Smuggling Control Act provide for anti-smuggling and control rules in respect of the smuggling or declaration of imported cargoes.  According to the first part of Article 5 of the Trade Act, the government may prohibit or control trading activities with specific countries or regions pursuant to statutory procedure for the purpose of national security.  The competent authority is also authorized under Article 11 of said Act to impose restrictions on the import or export of goods “for the needs of national defense, social security, culture, hygiene, environmental and ecological protection or policy.”  In addition, Article 35-II of the Act Governing Relations between Peoples of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area clearly provides, “Except as otherwise approved by the competent authority, no business dealing may be conducted between any entities of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area.”  Thus it is made known that the government may prohibit or restrict trading activities with specific countries or regions for such policy purposes as the preservation of national security and normal development of economy and trade.  The enforcement of the foregoing provisions hinges on the determination of the country of origin for imported goods.  If importers of the goods are allowed to make untrue declarations of the country of origin, then the national trade control policy will certainly become very difficult to implement. Therefore, in respect of the punishment regarding the false declaration of the country of origin for imported cargo, it deeply concerns the enforcement of the customs’ anti-smuggling activities, trade control and other related rules, which is not only made clear after examining the aforesaid relevant provisions of the Customs Smuggling Control Act, the Trade Act and the Act Governing Relations between Peoples of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, but also is essential to the enforcement of the laws and regulations concerning the customs’ anti-smuggling activities and trade control.  As such, it is consistent with the legislative intent of the Customs Smuggling Control Act and, insofar as it does not the aforesaid boundary, it is not in conflict with Article 23 of the Constitution.  As for the punishment provided in Articles 36 and 37 of the Customs Smuggling Control Act, an actor’s liability should still be conditioned upon his or her intention or negligence.  It should also be pointed out that, in this respect, J.Y. Interpretation No. 275 shall apply.
      
    • *Translated by Vincent C. Kuan.
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