In its February 18, 2016 ruling in Worldpac Canada v.
CBSA1, the Canadian International Trade Tribunal
(the "CITT") clarified several key issues of prescription
and recourses to appeal in the context of the Customs Act
(the "Act"). In particular, the CITT addressed the
so-called "blanket authorization" process (or Blanket B2
adjustment), which allows an importer to apply to the Canada Border
Services Agency (the "CBSA") for an authorization to file
several adjustment or refund requests at once in order to reduce
both the paper burden and processing time. The CITT held that this
procedure is purely administrative and does not affect the
statutory time limits provided for under the Act. In addition, it
held that neither the CBSA nor the CITT has jurisdiction to
consider refund requests filed outside the statutory time
Worldpac Canada is an importer of original equipment and
automotive parts. Between 2011 and 2013, the company submitted a
total of three blanket authorization requests to the CBSA with
respect to refund requests for erroneously classified importations
that occurred between March 1, 2008 and December 21, 2009. Between
February 28, 2012 and July 12, 2013, the CBSA issued blanket
authorization letters with respect to Worldpac's requests
(although one authorization was cancelled by the CBSA in March
2013). In its letters, the CBSA clearly informed Worldpac that the
blanket authorizations "... in no way remove or extend [...]
the four-year time limits to file a refund under section 74 [of the
Finally, in September and October 2013, Worldpac proceeded to
file its blanket adjustment refund requests regarding importations
that had occurred between January 1 and December 21, 2009
("the Filings"). In March and April 2014, the CBSA
decided to accept only those requests in the Filings that fell
within the four-year filing time limit set out in subparagraph
74(3)(b)(i) of the Act. The CBSA refused to consider the refund
requests in the Filings that fell outside that time limit.
Worldpac argued that the date of the earliest blanket
authorization letters was the relevant date of application in
determining the four-year time limit under the Act. Worldpac also
pleaded that the CBSA's decision to exclude the refund requests
filed outside the statutory time limit is subject to appeal before
the CITT under subsection 67(1) of the Act.
The CITT's Analysis
The CITT concluded that: "[t]he Act prescribes certain time
limits during which refund requests must be filed. A blanket
authorization-which constitutes an administrative
solution/mechanism-devised by the CBSA can by no means modify the
imperatives set out in the Act."3 According to the
CITT, subparagraph 74(3)(b)(i) of the Act must be applied and does
not provide for any possible extensions of time with respect to
refund requests4. Moreover, the blanket authorization
letters issued by the CBSA had clearly stated this. In any event,
the CITT determined that "[t]here is no discretion legally
available to the CBSA officers to accept requests that are filed
beyond that time limit."5
The CITT also affirmed that the decision of the CBSA not to
consider the refund requests filed outside the time limit does not
constitute a "determination" pursuant to subsection 59(1)
of the Act. Consequently, it cannot be subject to a
re-determination or further re-determination under subsection 60(1)
of the Act. As a result, there is no right of appeal to the CITT
under subsection 67(1) of the Act. Accordingly, the CITT found that
it had no jurisdiction in this case.
This decision is a strong reminder to importers that they must
be particularly mindful of statutory time limits when filing refund
requests with the CBSA. The blanket authorization process is
irrelevant to the calculation. Where an importer files a refund
request outside the statutory time limit, it may find itself in a
position where the CBSA does not process the request, leaving the
importer without any avenue of appeal other than the (cumbersome)
possibility of judicial review.
The author wishes to thank Sara Shearmur for her help in
writing this article.
2 Id., para. 38.
3 Id., para. 34.
4 Subparagraph 74(3)(b)(i) of the Act provides that:
"No refund shall be granted under subsection (1) in respect of
a claim unless [...]
(b) an application for the refund, including such evidence in
support of the application as may be prescribed, is made to an
officer in the prescribed manner and in the prescribed form
containing the prescribed information within
(i) in the case of an application for a refund under paragraph
(1)(a), (b), (c), (c.11), (d), (e), (f) or (g), four years after
the goods were accounted for under subsection 32(1), (3) or (5),
5 Supra note 1 at para. 42.
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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While that agreement mandated export measures on Canadian softwood lumber exports destined for the United States, it also protected those lumber exports from the potential imposition of onerous import measures by the U.S.
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