On 8 September, the Competition Council (CC) of Latvia fined the National Association of Latvian Shipbrokers and Shipping Agents (NALSA) for setting a minimal or fixed price for services of shipping agents. For the prohibited agreement the NALSA was imposed with a fine in the amount of EUR 715.35.
During the investigation, the CC stated that the duration of the infringement by the NALSA lasted for a period of more than 20 years. Already, at the time of establishing the association in 1994, within its statutes there was included a task to develop a scale of minimum agency fees that is binding to all the NALSA members. Ten years later, in 2004, the NALSA accepted a recommended scale of agency fees for services of shipping agents – ship loading and unloading, passenger embarking and disembarking etc.
Although the title of the scale seems to indicate recommended prices, the CC concluded that with a help of the scale, minimum, or in some cases fixed, prices were set. Therefore, the fee scale, accepted by the NALSA, were focused on creating a unified price level, thus, the competitive pressure and opportunities to ship agents to choose their own pricing policy were reduced.
Since the NALSA took a decision to annul the recommended scale of agency fee right after receiving information on the investigation, the CC reduced the fine to EUR 715.35, which is 5% of the net turnover of the association for the year 2013.