Wikborg Rein : Shipbrokers Should Beware of Changes to Competition Law

Wednesday, February 04, 2004
Sweeping changes in competition law across Norway and the EU could have serious consequences for shipowners and shipbrokers alike, warns Oslo-based law firm Wikborg Rein. Developments in competition law mean both a stricter regime and harsher penalties, says Wikborg Rein partner Trond Eilertsen. Traditionally, the competition law regime has been viewed as an issue for owners. But under the new regime, brokers not only must avoid engaging in cartel practices themselves, but must also ensure they do not act as middlemen in cartel agreements between shipowners. "Since the broker plays a key role in regard to the various contracts of carriage between owners and cargo interests, ignorance of the potential liabilities can have serious consequences," warns Eilertsen. Further changes to the law mean that it will no longer be possible to ask Norwegian competition authorities for approval of individual agreements. As a result, a working knowledge of the restrictions imposed by competition law is increasingly important. "As the line between illegal co-operation and intelligent market behaviour is not always easy to discern, the advice of professionals should be sought to resolve any questions prior to entering agreements," Eilertsen says.
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