HK Shippers’ Council considers legal action over HIT's Hanjin box fees

The Hong Kong Shippers’ Council has lawyers considering legal options available to force Honkong International Terminals to withdraw “excessive” container release charges in the wake of a successful Dutch court ruling against fellow Hutchison terminal ECT in Rotterdam.

Hong Kong Shippers’ Council chairman Willy Lin said the Dutch ruling had been passed on to the Hong Kong government and the council was exerting pressure on officials to persuade HIT to reduce its charges for the release of containers stranded in the port by Hanjin’s collapse. For a 40-foot container, HIT is asking for a HKD10,000 (USD1,280) “administrative charge” and a matching deposit charge, refundable after the container is returned. “The terminals are illegally holding the cargo. Shippers don’t owe the terminals anything but maybe a small handling charge. They have paid all the freight charges already, so how can the terminals charge extra to release the cargo? If Hanjin owes them money, terminals should sue Hanjin, but don’t expect importers to pay these excessive charges.”

Lin said shippers councils in Asia had reached a consensus that they would place pressure on their individual governments to take action against container terminals either holding containers or charging high release rates. Asked what shippers should do in the absence of any urgent legal action, Lin said they would unfortunately have to pay the HIT charges to gain access to their containers, but he urged the cargo owners to legally reserve the right to claim back the charges.

(IHS Fairplay)