A group of global container shipping lines operating from India has managed to secure a court stay against a Customs Department decision allowing exporters and importers to pay terminal handling charges (THC) directly to terminals, bypassing carriers.  

The Customs Department move, aimed at cutting logistics costs and enhancing ease of doing business, was challenged in the high courts of Mumbai, Madras and the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court by the Container Shipping Lines Association (CSLA) India, a lobby group for global container carriers which includes Maersk Line, MSC and CMA CGM.

Although, Mumbai high court is yet to grant the stay on petition filed by CLSA, the High Court of Madras and the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court have stayed the Customs decision issued through public notices in separate jurisdictions.

In container trade, THC is currently levied by the port terminals on the shipping lines for services such as unloading cargo containers from a ship and carting them to the storage yard in case of imports and vice versa for exports. Lines, in turn, recover this amount from the importers/exporters as an extra charge over and above ocean freight. The Bill of Lading – a contract between the line and a customer – demarcates the ocean freight and local charges such as THC and for delivering the container at the nearby container freight station or inland container depot.

Source: The Hindu Business Line


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