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Venable partner Ashley Craig was quoted in a September 20 Journal of Commerce article on the draft ocean carrier antitrust immunity bill, which is expected to be introduced in Congress this fall.

The bill would eliminate almost all antitrust immunity for ocean carriers and eliminate all carrier conferences and agreements, except those deemed to improve service. It would also strengthen the Federal Maritime Commission's dispute resolution office and establish an ocean shipping advisory committee.

According to Craig, the bill would virtually abolish carrier antitrust immunity and would surpass the abolition of block exceptions from European competition laws.

"The bill is a bit complicated. Antitrust immunity would only apply to carriers that entered into agreements for slot chartering, equipment swapping or chassis utilization," Craig said. "They would be able to piggyback on one another's vessels in different trade lanes, but they would be barred from establishing rates, or even rate guidelines. Carriers would not be able to do that. Period."