UK regulator may let shipping consortia exemption lapse By

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LONDON – The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provisionally decided not to recommend a new Liner Shipping Consortia Block Exemption Order (CBEO). This decision, if finalized, would mean the current regulation, known as the Liner Shipping Consortia Block Exemption Regulation (CBER), would expire on April 25, 2024, without a replacement.

The CMA is now seeking public input on the potential lapse of the regulation through a consultation document. Stakeholders have the opportunity to provide feedback with confidentiality measures in place, including the option for anonymity. The CMA emphasizes adherence to UK GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018 standards during this process to ensure personal data protection.

This move comes after an assessment that indicated shipping lines failed to meet crucial tests for a new CBEO. The provisional conclusion aligns with the EU Commission’s stance and opens the floor for further examination of consortia arrangements within the industry. Since January 19, 2023, when the CMA initiated consultations on the future of CBER, there has been significant lobbying by shipping lines in London to retain regulatory exemptions that allow them to collaborate under certain efficiency standards.

The Secretary of State for Business and Trade relies on guidance from the CMA regarding block exemptions like CBER, which have been part of UK law following Brexit. These regulations enable liner shipping firms to work together without breaching Chapter I prohibition conditions, provided they meet certain efficiency criteria.

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