My father and I run a small packing and shipping business who deal with packing and shipping antiques and collectables from auction houses around the UK. We was wondering what our position is regarding sending items of high value as when the consignments reach Australia the customer has to pay a very large import duty for anything valued roughly over £500. We have some customers requesting us to falsely declare the value however if they were to discover the real value that puts us in liability rather than them and is is very risky and we do not want to do it of course.
Hi Ben, I have a very simple view of this, false declarations are always unlawful and to be avoided. I firmly believe that integrity is vital in business, quite apart from any legal implications. If there is a way of sending consignments which are genuinely of less value than the threshold, it would avoid the problem, but ultimately can you trust a customer who is asking you to break the law?
Hope this helps
Hi Ben, I would add to Mike’s helpful response the following: a false value declaration may well constitute a fraudulent misrepresentation on your part. I do not know how Aussie customs treat such matters, but it is not at all improbable that you could held be held liable by them for the duty shortfall (if not criminally liable for fraud). Also, any professional negligence insurance cover you have will, almost certainly, be voided in such circumstances. The buyer will also wish to present artificially low value certificate to carriers to (wrongfully) reduce their transport freight costs; and to obtain artificially low cargo insurance cover. Most likely too, their cargo will be uninsured as their insurance cover will also,almost certainly, be voided by underwriters in such circumstances. For all of these reasons, and the sound ones Mike highlighted, you should (and are fully entitled to) refuse any such requests – in the confident knowledge that do otherwise is, at least, almost certainly fraudulent. Your intuitive sense of business ethics is absolutely right.
Thank you for enforcing this as well, it is very much appreciated. I have now included in our terms and conditions that we will not expedite any requests for false declarations. Its simply a risk we’re not willing to take.
We pride ourselves knowing we provide a very reliable and competitive service to our clients although sometimes as I am sure you know, restrictions must be held.
Once again, thank you for your input.