Showing posts from January, 2018

The Unbearable Unambiguity of Laws

Someday, when I am done practicing and looking for a final way to stay engaged, I would like to teach Administrative Law to JD students. I often tell student that, for what I do, the single most important class I took in law school was not any class with "international" in the course description. It was Administrative Law. My practice is all about what the federal government can and cannot require of importers and exporters and what must be required of the federal government. That is administrative law. Two recent decisions from the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit put this nicely in focus. The first is Capella Sales & Services Ltd. v. United States. This is one of those cases with a relatively straight-forward analysis that leads to a bad result. Capella entered aluminum extrusions from China. At the time its entries liquidated, Commerce had determined the countervailing duty deposit rate to be 374.15%. Capella did not challenge the rate and, as a result, th

The Case of the Substitute Radical

While I had big plans for this post, time and work have intervened. I will skip the chemistry lesson and tell you what you need to know. This is the upshot from the CAFC decision in Chemtall . The classification issue boils down to whether acrylamide tertiary butyl sulfonic acid ("ATBS") is an amide or a derivative of an amide. An amide is a class of chemicals that is defined by a carbon atom double bonded to an oxygen atom and to a nitrogen atom. The carbon atom is bonded to a radical designated R1. The nitrogen atom is bonded to two radicals designated R2 and R3. That makes for molecule that looks like this: The issue here is the composition one of the radicals. Is the product still an amide if one of the radicals is bonded to the sulfur compound SO 3 H? If so, the product is classifiable in 2924.19.11 as an amide (3.7%). If not, it is classifiable in 2924.19.80 (6.5%). Here's the answer: most secondary chemistry resources define amides as having only hydrogen

Contain Yourself

The Container Store v. United States has an interesting history. It involves the tariff classification of elfa "top tracks" and "hanging standards." Top tracks are the horizontal mounting members that can be affixed to a wall. The hanging standards are vertically connected to the top tracks. The hanging standards have slots that can be used for mounting attachments such as shelves, baskets, and drawers allowing consumers to build customs storage solutions. I am pretty sure this is what we are talking about: This may ring a bell with you, because we have been down this road before. We discussed the CIT decision in this case here . And, before that, we addressed the same question in a case called storeWALL .  The reason this issue is back before the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is that in customs law, few things are ever final and beyond subsequent question. Each time an importer has a classification dispute with Customs and files a protest, th

Waterproof Footwear

A long time ago, I went to a local shoe store in search of a pair of fairly rugged work boots that I could wear in the winter when forced to work outside for some reason. I recall the sales guy telling me that a particular pair was 80% waterproof. Because I can sometimes be a jerk, I asked what that means and he just repeated that they are 80% waterproof. I asked whether that means they leak 20% of the time, or 20% of the water comes in, or that 80% of the surface area was 100% waterproof, which I am certain was the correct answer. He was unable to answer and this became a long-running joke in my house about the misuse of statistics. I am reminded of that by LF USA, Inc. v. United States , a Court of International Trade Case involving the classification of plastic children's clogs. This is a pretty quick decision that focuses on the meaning of "waterproof." If the clogs are waterproof, they would be classified in Heading 6401, provided they also meet the other requireme