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,"
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.