22 Maret 2015

[220315.EN.BIZ] ESC Says No To Legal Action And Calls For Better Co-operation

SHIPPERS are not poised to embark on new lawsuits against forwarders over price-fixing, according to the air freight policy manager at the European Shippers' Council (ESC) and secretary of the Dutch Council of Air Shippers (EVO), Joost van Doesburg.

Instead, Mr van Doesburg has called for an end to what he calls a "negative chapter" in the air cargo history, marked lawsuits since the competition investigations into price-fixing began in 2006, reports Lloyd's Loading List.

"These reports give the impression that everyone in the industry is ready to sue each other, which is a great pity and not at all the image we should be projecting," Mr van Doesburg said.

"There may well be a solid legal case for forwarders to answer against shippers, but the amount of damages is probably too low to make such action likely," he said.

"I think it's time to look at the broader issue and focus our attention on ways of improving co-operation between, shippers, freight forwarders and airlines instead of pursuing each other in court."

Mr van Doesburg said that a large number of European shippers were already seeking claims for damages against airlines convicted of taking part in an air cargo price-fixing cartel between 1999 and 2006, totalling EUR2 billion (US$2.13 billion).

"Each of the shippers seeking compensation from airlines is acting independently and anonymously, with neither the ECS nor EVO having direct involvement in the litigation. Our role is to advise on shippers rights; that's it."

He said three legal firms were representing shippers in several European countries - the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Belgium, with the initial legal proceedings dating back more than five years.

"They [the law firms] are building pressure on the airlines in the hope of getting them round the table to negotiate and reach a settlement without having to go to court.

"We are not there yet, but these claims should be a thing of the past. Instead, we have the prospect of the process dragging on and continuing to poison relations between airlines and shippers. It's very regrettable and a swift settlement would be the best solution."

It is hard not to come to the conclusion that the spate of court cases between forwarders and airlines, and shippers and forwarders, does nothing for the air freight industry and its customers - merely pays a high tariff to the legal industry, the London's Loadstar reported.

Source : HKSG.

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