(a) Ocean Common Carrier Agreements.—
(1) Restrictions.—An ocean common carrier agreement may not—
prohibit or restrict a member of the agreement from engaging in negotiations for a service contract with a shipper;
require a member of the agreement to disclose a negotiation on a service contract, or the terms of a service contract, other than those terms required to be published under section 40502(d) of this title; or
adopt mandatory rules or requirements affecting the right of an agreement member to negotiate and enter into a service contract.
(2) Voluntary guidelines.—
An ocean common carrier agreement may provide authority to adopt voluntary guidelines relating to the terms and procedures of an agreement member’s service contracts if the guidelines explicitly state the right of members of the agreement not to follow the guidelines. Any guidelines adopted shall be submitted confidentially to the Federal Maritime Commission.
(b) Conference Agreements.—Each conference agreement must—
provide reasonable and equal terms for admission and readmission to conference membership for any ocean common carrier willing to serve the particular trade or route;
permit any member to withdraw from conference membership on reasonable notice without penalty;
at the request of any member, require an independent neutral body to police fully the obligations of the conference and its members;
prohibit the conference from engaging in conduct prohibited by section 41105(1) or (3) of this title;
(6) provide for a consultation process designed to promote—
cooperation with shippers in preventing and eliminating malpractices;
establish procedures for promptly and fairly considering requests and complaints of shippers; and
(8) provide that—
any member of the conference may take independent action on a rate or service item on not more than 5 days’ notice to the conference; and
except for an exempt commodity 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 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) 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.
(d) Vessel Sharing Agreements.—
(1) In general.—
An ocean common carrier that is the owner, operator, or bareboat, time, or slot charterer of a liner vessel documented under section 12103 or 12111(c) of this title may agree with an ocean common carrier described in paragraph (2) to which it charters or subcharters the vessel or space on the vessel that the charterer or subcharterer may not use or make available space on the vessel for the carriage of cargo reserved by law for vessels of the United States.
(2) Carrier described.—
An ocean common carrier described in this paragraph is one that is not the owner, operator, or bareboat charterer for at least one year of liner vessels of the United States that are eligible to be included in the Maritime Security Fleet Program and are enrolled in an Emergency Preparedness Program under chapter 531 of this title.
(Pub. L. 109–304, § 7, Oct. 6, 2006, 120 Stat. 1529.)