46 CFR § 545.1 - Interpretation of Shipping Act of 1984—Refusal to negotiate with shippers' associations.
(a) 46 U.S.C. 40502 authorizes ocean common carriers and agreements between or among ocean common carriers to enter into a service contract with a shippers' association, subject to the requirements of the Shipping Act of 1984 (“Act”). 46 U.S.C. 41104(a)(10) prohibits carriers from unreasonably refusing to deal or negotiate. 46 U.S.C. 40307(a)(3) exempts from the antitrust laws any activity within the scope of the Act, undertaken with a reasonable basis to conclude that it is pursuant to a filed and effective agreement.
(b) The Federal Maritime Commission interprets these provisions to establish that a common carrier or conference may not require a shippers' association to obtain or apply for a Business Review Letter from the Department of Justice prior to or as part of a service contract negotiation process.