New Book Highlights Regulatory Issues

How did we get to this point in supply chain management? Much of the current environment was influenced by factors that drove transportation regulation and anti-trust law in the U.S. Author John M. Cutler Jr. walks through some of the history and offers a view of where current regulatory oversight remains, citing the governing regulations in the process. His “Rules of the Game: Legal and Regulatory Issues Facing the Supply Chain Manager” is a good overview of the current regulatory scene in each transport mode. It includes a look at some of the other facets of the supply chain affected by existing and developing rules and regulations.

In the rail section, Cutler notes over-regulation was blamed for many rail bankruptcies in the 1970s, providing some of the justification for the Staggers Act of 1980 which partially deregulated the rail sector. But the railroads are still subject to regulation in areas where they enjoy “market dominance” (USC 10707).

Running through a number of other areas of rail transport, he points out rail bills of lading differ from motor carrier bills of lading and are prescribed by the Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR Part 1035).

Start paging through the motor carrier section, and you can compare notes on motor carrier bills of lading vs. rail bills of lading. This yields a caution not to use some of the pre-printed bills of lading that may still show up in office supply stores. Why? Conflicts can arise over broad language stating goods were “received subject to tariffs and classifications in effect on the date of this shipment.” The language is a holdover from the days when carriers were required to file tariffs with the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). Despite the sunsetting of the ICC, carriers still publish internal tariffs so the “subject to the individually determined rates or contracts” line in the National Motor Freight Classification “Uniform Straight Bill of Lading” is an improvement.

Cutler is clear from the outset that the book does not replace good legal advice, and as a good lawyer, he advises seeking counsel for specific issues. The book will, however, provide a sense of perspective on a number of issues and could point to areas where many shippers will want to start some of those dialogues with their legal counsel.

The book is available for $39.95 from the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals ($29.95 for CSCMP members).

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