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Container detention fees an unlawful penalty?

There have been ongoing debates as to the quantum of container detention fees charged by shipping lines.  This has been a controversial issue, as many are of the view that the heavy fees imposed do not constitute a genuine pre-estimate of the damages expected to be suffered from the late return or non-return of a shipping container and are better considered as penalties and unenforceable.

This issue has been reawakened by a class action filed on 12 August 2014 against ANZ, Citibank and Westpac (“the New Class Action”).  The New Class Action follows on from a series of previous litigation concerning the enforceability of the quantum of certain bank fees.  More…