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Movement of freight in the US will be easier following a Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) judge ruling that shipping lines violated the Ocean Shipping Reform Act 2022 when requiring operators to use specific intermodal equipment providers.
Judge Erin Wirth yesterday ruled that the shipping lines involved, including MSC, CMA CGM, Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd, and the Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association (OCEMA), which oversees chassis pool arrangements, prevented customers choosing their own chassis provider to deliver containers.
Following the ruling, shipping lines and chassis pool operators in Chicago, Los Angeles/Long Beach, Memphis and Savannah must not limit their customers’ choice of chassis within 30 days.
The complaint was filed with the FMC in 2020 by the American Trucking Associations’ Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference (IMCC) and “this victory has been a long time coming”, said its executive director, Jonathan Eisen.
He added: “The decision is the first step in putting a stop to the practice of foreign-owned shipping lines forcing American drivers and motor carriers to use specific equipment providers to move goods – which will help reduce supply chain delays and cut costs for carriers and consumers.”
According to the IMCC, the practice of specifying chassis providers meant motor carriers had been “held hostage” by the shipping lines. Mr Eisen said: “We are pleased the judge agreed [with the IMCC] and we look forward to ending these unreasonable and unjust practices permanently.”
OCEMA and the shipping lines involved had asked the judge to dismiss the complaint, claiming the FMC did not have jurisdiction over intermodal chassis within the US.
However, the judge pointed out that OSRA 2022 requires the FMC to “ensure an efficient, competitive and economical transportation system”, and therefore that the FMC did have jurisdiction in such cases.
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