§ 1704. Agreements

(a) Filing requirements
A true copy of every agreement entered into with respect to an activity described in section 1703 (a) or (b) of this Appendix shall be filed with the Commission, except agreements related to transportation to be performed within or between foreign countries and agreements among common carriers to establish, operate, or maintain a marine terminal in the United States. In the case of an oral agreement, a complete memorandum specifying in detail the substance of the agreement shall be filed. The Commission may by regulation prescribe the form and manner in which an agreement shall be filed and the additional information and documents necessary to evaluate the agreement.
(b) Conference agreements
Each conference agreement must—
(1) state its purpose;
(2) provide reasonable and equal terms and conditions for admission and readmission to conference membership for any ocean common carrier willing to serve the particular trade or route;
(3) permit any member to withdraw from conference membership upon reasonable notice without penalty;
(4) at the request of any member, require an independent neutral body to police fully the obligations of the conference and its members;
(5) prohibit the conference from engaging in conduct prohibited by section 1709 (c)(1) or (3) of this Appendix;
(6) provide for a consultation process designed to promote—
(A) commercial resolution of disputes, and
(B) cooperation with shippers in preventing and eliminating malpractices;
(7) establish procedures for promptly and fairly considering shippers’ requests and complaints; and
(8) provide that any member of the conference may take independent action on any rate or service item upon not more than 5 calendar days’ notice to the conference and that, except for exempt commodities not published in the conference tariff, the conference will include the new rate or service item in its tariff for use by that member, effective no later than 5 calendar days after receipt of the notice, and by any other member that notifies the conference that it elects to adopt the independent rate or service item on or after its effective date, in lieu of the existing conference tariff provision for that rate or service item;
(c) Ocean common carrier agreements
An ocean common carrier agreement may not—
(1) prohibit or restrict a member or members of the agreement from engaging in negotiations for service contracts with 1 or more shippers;
(2) require a member or members of the agreement to disclose a negotiation on a service contract, or the terms and conditions of a service contract, other than those terms or conditions required to be published under section 1707 (c)(3) of this Appendix; or
(3) adopt mandatory rules or requirements affecting the right of an agreement member or agreement members to negotiate and enter into service contracts.
An agreement may provide authority to adopt voluntary guidelines relating to the terms and procedures of an agreement member’s or agreement members’ service contracts if the guidelines explicitly state the right of members of the agreement not to follow the guidelines. These guidelines shall be confidentially submitted to the Commission.
(d) Interconference agreements
Each agreement between carriers not members of the same conference must provide the right of independent action for each carrier. Each agreement between conferences must provide the right of independent action for each conference.
(e) Assessment agreements
Assessment agreements shall be filed with the Commission and become effective on filing. The Commission shall thereafter, upon complaint filed within 2 years of the date of the agreement, disapprove, cancel, or modify any such agreement, or charge or assessment pursuant thereto, that it finds, after notice and hearing, to be unjustly discriminatory or unfair as between carriers, shippers, or ports. The Commission shall issue its final decision in any such proceeding within 1 year of the date of filing of the complaint. To the extent that an assessment or charge is found in the proceeding to be unjustly discriminatory or unfair as between carriers, shippers, or ports, the Commission shall remedy the unjust discrimination or unfairness for the period of time between the filing of the complaint and the final decision by means of assessment adjustments. These adjustments shall be implemented by prospective credits or debits to future assessments or charges, except in the case of a complainant who has ceased activities subject to the assessment or charge, in which case reparation may be awarded. Except for this subsection and section 1706 (a) of this Appendix, this chapter does not apply to assessment agreements.
(f) Maritime labor agreements
This chapter does not apply to maritime labor agreements. This subsection does not exempt from this chapter any rates, charges, regulations, or practices of a common carrier that are required to be set forth in a tariff or are essential terms of a service contract, whether or not those rates, charges, regulations, or practices arise out of, or are otherwise related to, a maritime labor agreement.
(g) Vessel sharing agreements
An ocean common carrier that is the owner, operator, or bareboat, time, or slot charterer of a United States-flag liner vessel documented pursuant to sections [1] 12102(a) or (d) of title 46 is authorized to agree with an ocean common carrier that is not the owner, operator or bareboat charterer for at least 1 year of United States-flag liner vessels which are eligible to be included in the Maritime Security Fleet Program and are enrolled in an Emergency Preparedness Program pursuant to subtitle B of title VI of the Merchant Marine Act, 1936 (46 App. U.S.C. 1187 et seq.), to which it charters or subcharters the United States-flag vessel or space on the United States-flag vessel that such charterer or subcharterer may not use or make available space on the vessel for the carriage of cargo reserved by law for United States-flag vessels.

[1] So in original. Probably should be “section”.