The parties to a conference agreement or a representative of these parties may apply for provisional registration of a conference agreement or a varying conference agreement under Division 6. Provisional registration involves the publication of details of a conference agreement in a public register and requires parties to negotiate with and provide information to the designated shipper body. The requirements for provisional registration are outlined in Section 10.25 and Section 10.26(3) of the Act and Regulations 38 and 47 of the Competition and Consumer Regulations 2010.
An application for the provisional registration of a conference agreement must:
- be accompanied by a signed and dated Form 1;
- be accompanied by a full copy of the agreement;
- be accompanied by the prescribed fee; and
- be verified by a statutory declaration made according to the regulations.
Decision by the Registrar of Liner Shipping
The Registrar of Liner Shipping (a statutory function performed by an SES officer of the Department) needs to be satisfied of a number of matters prior to making a decision on an application for provisional registration (section 10.28). The Registrar of Liner Shipping has 14 days from receipt of a complete application to make a decision.
The Registrar of Liner Shipping must make a decision on whether:
- the application has been properly made (sections 10.26 and 10.27);
- the agreement contains provisions for a question arising under the agreement to be determined in Australia in accordance with Australian law (section 10.06); and
- the agreement allows a party to withdraw from the agreement on reasonable notice without penalty (section 10.06).
The Registrar of Liner Shipping must also be satisfied that the provisional registration of the agreement is not prevented by:
- the refusal of a confidentiality request,
- the provisional registration of a varying conference agreement or
- the non-notification of the happening of an event which would affect the services provided or proposed to be provided.
If the Registrar of Liner Shipping is satisfied that the agreement meets all the requirements, then the Registrar of Liner Shipping will provisionally register the agreement and notify the applicants of the provisional registration. The Australian Peak Shippers Association or the Importers Association of Australia, as appropriate, and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission are also notified of the provisional registration.
If the Registrar of Liner Shipping is not satisfied, then the Registrar of Liner Shipping will refuse to provisionally register the agreement and will notify the applicant/s in writing providing reasons for the decision and returning the documents provided by the applicant.