Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Ocean Freight and RoRo Ferry Lines to Receive Millions in Compensation from Government

For Once Authorities Ordered to Repay Shipping Groups (rather than the usual reverse situation)
Shipping News Feature

FINLAND – WORLDWIDE – The Helsinki District Court has ruled that the Finnish Government had been in breach of EU law and the Principle of Non-Discrimination when, between 2001 and 2004, the state had charged higher ‘fairway’ dues to vessels in international freight and passenger trade than for those in domestic trade. The court has ordered the state to pay a total of around €91 million, plus another €800,000 in costs, to 52 ocean freight and RoRo ferry companies.

During the proceedings, the Government argued that the Finnish court had no jurisdiction to rule over the case and that it was instead a matter for the European Court of Justice as the case involves non-conformity with EU law. After the Helsinki District Court dismissed the objections of Finland's claims, the State is to appeal this decision.

According to the judgment in the Helsinki District Court, the Finnish State will be required to pay the legal expenses plus interest to the plaintiffs, which includes the Tallink Grupp, and its subsidiaries, which will receive a total of €23.9 million; Neste Oil, €23 million; Finnlines, €17 million; Viking Lines €12.4 million; and ESL Shipping which will receive €3 million.

After several years of hearings in which numerous shipping lines, freight forwarders and the like have faced billions in fines from government antitrust watchdogs many will doubtless find this latest judgement somewhat ironic.

Photo: The Helsinki Ditrict Court House.