ATTORNEYS URGE FMC TO FINE TRANSPACIFIC LINES
The Federal Maritime Commission’s Bureau of Enforcement has urged the
commission to fine carriers of the now-dormant Asia North America Eastbound Rate Agreement
for opting out of several service contracts during last year’s pre-holiday capacity
The bureau’s attorneys attorneys challenged carrier arguments that the
opt-out terms were clearly spelled out in the service contracts shippers
signed. "Contrary to ANERA’s assertions, all contract shippers did not
understand the opt-out provisions," the attorneys said.
The tariff rates charged under the opt-out actions were substantially
higher than the rates agreed to by shippers under the contracts, the FMC
The bureau charged that ANERA’s opt-out clause was "a phantom decision
… which appears nowhere in conference minutes," and that lines failed to place the
opt-out provision in at least 92 contracts.
Attorneys also accused ANERA and its lines of providing "seriously
inaccurate statements and statistics to the commission. The history of
adopting, executing, filing, implementing and defending the practice of
opting out in 1998 by ANERA and its members is a study in chaos."
Opting out was used primarily to increase carrier revenues during last
year’s peak shipping season, the FMC lawyers said.
Under the shipping act, the carriers could face fines of up to $5,000
per day for each unwillfull and unknowing violation, and up to $25,000 per
day for each willful and knowing violation.