A DUTCH court has ordered Hong Kong's Hutchison container terminal in Rotterdam to stop charging EUR1,000 (US$1,120) - EUR1,500 release fees to enable shippers and forwarders to get their Hanjin boxes off the dock and into their possession.
The court ruled in favour of shippers and forwarders against the Hutchison-owned Europe Container Terminals (ECT) for levying fixed release fees, but allowing them a surcharge of EUR25 instead, reported Lloyd's Loading List.
In proceedings brought by Dutch logistics, freight forwarding and shipper associations TLN, FENEX, EVO and Fenedex, the court ruled that the fixed fees applied by ECT for Hanjin containers were unlawful.
The judge said ECT may only charge the actual handling costs plus a surcharge of EUR25 per container, but ruled that ECT still may apply a "lien" - the right to keep possession of property belonging to another until a debt has been paid.
Said the European Shippers' Council's maritime policy chief Fabien Becquelin: "Terminals must free the containers so trade is not hindered. It's clear that shippers will suffer from the [Hanjin] situation and all of the players in the chain must do their utmost to ensure the free flow of goods."
The US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) said it had no jurisdiction in resolving bankruptcy claims but it was "it will be vigilant in watching for, and quick to act on, any improper behaviour by other carriers and regulated parties, terminal operators, NVOCCs and forwarders, that would constitute violations of the Shipping Act".
Mr Becquelin welcomed the decision by the FMC "to make sure that any stakeholder does not exploit Hanjin Shipping's failure", adding: "We think this is fair and we invite other competition authorities to have the same approach."