DECKS CLEARED FOR HEARING TACA INLAND PRICING CASE

DECKS CLEARED FOR HEARING TACA INLAND PRICING CASE

The decks have been cleared for the European Court of Justice to take up a controversial case involving inland price-fixing by members of the Trans-Atlantic Conference Agreement.

Parties to a similar case known as Sunag settled their differences out of court last week. Since the Sunag case dealt with issues similar to those in the TACA case, the court decided to delay review of the TACA case until the Sunag case is resolved.Terms of the Sunag settlement have not been made public. The case itself concerned a cargo-pooling dispute among the nine members of the now-defunct Scandinavian, United Kingdom, Northwest Continent and Arabian Gulf (Sunag) conference.

In the Sunag case, one faction within the conference accused another faction of exceeding its cargo quotas. Had the case been ruled on by the European Court of Justice, the ruling may have been based in part on whether Sunag was legally entitled to set joint prices for inland service.

The court is now expected to take up the same issue in the TACA case, which involves an appeal by TACA against a European Commission ruling that the conference may not set joint rates for inland transportation.

At stake for TACA members is the potential for European Commission fines of up to 10 percent of revenue, if the court rules in the commission's favor.