Surface Transportation Board Denies Request to Investigate Changes to the Universal Bill of Lading
The Surface Transportation Board (STB) announced its decision to deny the request for the Transportation and Logistics Council (TLC) to investigate amendments to the Uniform Straight Bill of Lading set forth in the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC). The STB notes that because the amendments were not adopted under an approved collective rate-setting agreement, they are not subject to the reasonableness requirements of the statute, therefore, there was no basis for an investigation. According to the decision, “the STB terminated its approval of the motor carrier rate bureau agreements nearly 10 years ago, and as such, there is no basis for an investigation.”
On July 14, 2016, the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA), who publishes the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC), issued Supplement 2 to NMF 100-AP, which took effect on August 13, 2016. The Supplement contains changes to the bill of lading forms:
the Uniform Straight Bill of Lading, including the Terms and Conditions on the reverse side;
the Straight Bill of Lading – Short Form; and
the NMFC rules in Item 360 – Bills of Lading, Freight Bills and Statements of Charges.
The current version of the Uniform Straight Bill of Lading, and the Terms and Conditions on the reverse side have been virtually unchanged for the last 19 years.
The changes to the bill of lading were made without notice to the public, nor were shippers given any opportunity to comment, or to protest the changes.
By petition filed on July 29, 2016, the TLC asked the STB to suspend and investigate the proposal of the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) to revise the Uniform Straight Bill of Lading. This decision at this point closes the door with the STB to suspend the changes.
TIA has updated its broker-carrier model contract to address these changes, and the updated version should be released within the next few weeks.