The owners of Southampton Port are levying a 10% charge on all loaded import containers in order to recover its contribution to the Southampton-Nuneaton gauge clearance scheme. It is being charged on all containers, including those which will be moved inland by road.
The British International Freight Association asked the Office of Fair Trading for guidance, because DP World is surcharging the nominated clearing declarant, not the shipping line. BIFA’s argument is that there is no contractual relationship between the clearing agent and the Port, so therefore DPW should invoice its ‘true customers’ which are the shipping lines. BIFA also makes the point that, as most imports through Southampton will continue to move by road, it is unfair for road freight to subsidise rail freight. However, the OFT shelved the complaint last week because it was not sufficiently important.