Carriage of Goods’s Docs MLA 2023 Fall Meeting (San Francisco) and Committee Business

Ladies & Gentlemen:

We are now just over three weeks from the opening of the MLA Fall Meeting at the Argonaut Hotel in San Francisco.

We will not be meeting as a Committee in San Francisco, but have organized a CLE presentation for the Friday (21 September) session.   As we discussed in New York, that presentation will revisit the FMC’s proposed rulemaking with respect to Ocean Carrier Detention and Demurrage practices and Unreasonable Refusal to Deal or Negotiate with Respect to Vessel Space Accomodation.  Rebecca FENNEMAN (JEFFREY FENNEMAN LAW + STRATEGY) and Henry GONZALEZ (GONZALEZ DEL VALLE) will review developments in the rulemaking process over the last six months, addressing the specifics of both the proposed rules and comments submitted to the FMC.  Following their presentations, I will moderate a “Point / Counterpoint” style of discussion of the proposed rules with Mike JACOB (Vice President and General Counsel, Pacific Merchant Shipping Association) and Stephanie PENNINGER (Senior Director and Legal Counsel, RXO Logistics).

That said, the Committee does have business before it:  our Member, David MALOOF, has proposed a statutory “fix” of COGSA – which addresses the current limitation of liability, as well as case precedent with respect to Covenants not to Sue, Bill of Lading choice of forum clauses, and the duties of Non-Vessel Operating Common Carriers – and requested his proposal be put to a vote of both the Committee and the MLA as a whole.

Consistent with MLA By-Laws (Rule 504), the Carriage of Goods Committee must consider the proposal and issue a Report to be acted upon at a Meeting of the full membership of the MLA; in the event of expressed dissent, a majority report must be forwarded to the MLA Secretary 45 days prior to consideration by the General Membership and a minority report thirty days before consideration by the General Membership. Those reports are then to be distributed to the General Membership twenty days before the vote.

In order to allow Committee Members adequate time to review the proposal, provide responsive comment, and review any responsive comments prior to a Comittee discussion and vote, I have attached the legislative revision and supporting documents tendered by David MALOOF (please note that the draft-revision attached to the August 24 proposal has been superseded by the 20230920 draft).

Should you wish to make responsive comments or counter-proposals, and submit relevant documents regarding your response to my attention no later than November 15.  I will assemble those comments and circulate them to the Committee by December 15.

We will then schedule a Committee meeting – to be held remotely by ZOOM – for mid-January, so that we may file the require Committee Report or Reports so that a vote on the proposal may be taken up at the General Meeting in New York.

I look forward to your comments on Dave MALOOF’s proposal and to seeing you in San Francisco.

Best regards,