By some recent rulings 1, the Regional Administrative Court of Tuscany clarified that the financial burden involved with the provision of the public security service at port customs gates cannot be placed only on concessionaires of state-owned areas, as such costs must be shared among all users of port services.
More specifically, the above-mentioned rulings relate to two claims challenging measures whereby, in 2015, the then-Livorno Port Authority (now Port System Authority of the Northern Tyrrhenian Sea) had ordered two concessionaries to pay the fees due to the company in charge of the security and customs control service at the Port of Livorno.
By the judgments under examination, the Regional Administrative Court of Tuscany upheld the claims brought by the concessionaires and cancelled the Port Authority's payment requests.
In particular, the Administrative Court held that the provision of the 2007 Financial Act that confers upon the Authority the power to levy a surcharge on "taxes, fees and charges" to fund the security service 2 likewise requires the Authority to charge the relevant costs to all users of port services, without distinction.
The above therefore led the Administrative Court to hold that the Port Authority's decision to charge the costs of security services only to concessionaires of port areas was contrary to the provisions of the 2007 Financial Act, which provide for such services to be paid also through other revenues of the Authority (e.g. those deriving from authorisations for port operations or from taxes applied on goods embarked and disembarked in ports).
It is worth noting that, in the aforementioned judgments, the Regional Administrative Court of Tuscany also highlighted the unlawfulness and unreasonableness of the Port Authority's requests insofar as the amounts claimed from concessionaires of state-owned areas were determined only having regard to the size of the areas under concession (while the Court found it illogical to assume that a larger area always involves greater traffic intensity at port gates and a more intense activity of security services).
The judgements at hand, requiring the Authority to implement a different (and fairer) distribution of the costs to be paid for the security service provided in port areas, represent a big step towards ensuring equal treatment among the various operators engaged in port operations.
1. Decisions of the Administrative Regional Court of Tuscany, Florence, First Division, No. and No. 1207 and 1209 of 14 October 2020.
2. Article 1, paragraph 984, of Law No. 296 of 27 December 2006.
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