HUAL and Puerto Rico port authority settle dispute over charges
The Norwegian shipping line HUAL AS and the Puerto Rico Ports Authority have settled a dispute over port charges in San Juan following a mediation by the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission.
The commission has also dismissed a complaint by HUAL to the FMC against the Puerto Rico Ports Authority, as requested by both parties. The settlement means that a related court proceeding between HUAL and the Puerto Rican authority will be ended.
The dispute began in January 2003 when HUAL filed a complaint, alleging that respondent Puerto Rico Ports Authority was violating the Shipping Act of 1984 because, allegedly, PRPA was improperly charging wharfage on automobiles carried by HUAL to San Juan for transshipment to foreign ports. HUAL had alleged that the port authority used a higher rate published in PRPA’s tariff, and was also improperly charging automobiles on outbound as well as inbound shipments contrary to PRPA’s tariff. HUAL had asked for a cease and desist order and for unspecified monetary reparations.
In addition, PRPA had filed suit against HUAL’s agent in Puerto Rico, claiming unpaid charges. This court suit was stayed by the court to allow the FMC to determine Shipping Act issues that were common to both proceedings.
The latest settlement between both sides ends the dispute. The settlement is known to the FMC, but is otherwise confidential.
Under the settlement, the FMC said that HUAL has agreed to make a lump-sum payment to PRPA, which has been done. The shipping line will also make payments to PRPA under certain terms until the current PRPA tariff, which HUAL had claimed to be ambiguous, is superseded. In return, PRPA has granted permission for HUAL to operate on a credit basis at San Juan.
“The agreement includes provisions designed to facilitate the parties’ commercial relationship and preclude further dispute,” the FMC said.