Court sets to deliver landmark ruling on Shippers Council’s powers today

Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos will today rule in a case brought before him against the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) by the Association of Shipping Line Agencies (ASLA). The Judge is also expected to rule on the matter between the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) and the NSC.

Members of the Association of Shipping Line Agencies (ASLA) on Friday 30th October 2014 secured a court injunction restraining NSC from slashing the shipping lines’ agency charges as published recently in the national dailies.

Members of the association include Alraine Shipping Agencies, Cross Marine Services, CMA CGM Delmas, Comet Shipping Services, Grimaldi Agency and Gulf Agency. Others are Hull Blyth Nigeria Limited, Lagos and Niger Shipping Agencies, Maersk Nigeria Limited, Mediterranean Shipping Company, Mitsui OSK Lines, PIL Nigeria Limited and Sharaf Shipping Agency.

The suit number FHC/L/CS/1646/2014 was filed on behalf of ALSA and its members by Chidi Ilogu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

Justice Ibrahim Buba, who granted the order, had earlier granted a similar order in favour of the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) restraining the NSC from implementing its proposed reversal of storage charges and increase of free storage days at the nation’s seaports from three to seven.

It would be recalled that the council equally directed shipping companies to reduce their shipping line agency charges from N26,500 to N23,850 per TEU, and from N48,000 to N40,000 per FEU. It also directed shipping agencies to refund container deposits to importers and agents within 10 working days after the return of the empty containers.

Irrespective of the outcome of today’s Court ruling, there are indications that any of the parties not favoured may head for the Court of Appeal.

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