Freight Bureaus Lose Antitrust Immunity

Under consideration for a number of years, antitrust immunity had been permitted for the industry by the now closed Interstate Commerce Commission that was the predecessor of the STB. With immunity in force, motor carriers could collectively establish rates and classifications as well as a number of other general rules and regulations that used average industry carrier costs as their basis.

Additionally the STB ruling removes antitrust immunity for the National Classification Committee (NCC) that administers the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) by grouping all articles moving by truck into classes based on their transportation characteristics.

Bureaus such as SMC3 that has worked for more than 20 years to set rates for the industry are evaluating the STB ruling in order to gauge its next steps. The bureau offers a number of products, including the widely-used Czar Lite, a product that has formed the basis for shipper, carrier and third party transportation agreements.

Bill Pugh, NCC secretary and executive director of the National Motor Freight Transportation Association, says, “Most definitely classification will continue. Some modification of the existing process might be necessary, but the NMFC's importance to both shippers and carriers demands that it be preserved.”

The ruling is slated to come into effect in 120 days.

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