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ACM publishes pilotage tariff decisions for 2014, 2015 and 2016

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets today published the revised pilotage-tariff decisions for 2014 and 2015, as well as the pilotage-tariff decision for 2016. For certain vessel classes, the 2016 pilotage tariff decision contains unexpected tariff increases compared with the original tariffs for 2014 and 2015. This is in line with the revision of the decisions for 2014 and 2015. Next year will be a transitional year in order to mitigate the effect of these tariff increases in 2016.

The tariff decisions apply to all six Dutch port regions:

  • Delfzijl/Eemshaven;
  • Harlingen/Terschelling;
  • Den Helder;
  • Amsterdam-Ijmond;
  • Rotterdam-Rijnmond;
  • Scheldemonden.

Individual claims may lead to settlements

Now that new tariffs have been set for 2014 and 2015, there is a possibility that some users paid pilots too much in those years. In those cases, these users have the opportunity to file claims with the Dutch Pilotage Service.

Why has ACM revised the 2014 and 2015 tariff decisions?

ACM revised the 2014 and 2015 tariff decisions following a court ruling in March 2015. In the original tariff decision for 2014, a new pilotage tariff structure with uniform national tariffs was used for the first time. For the Scheldemonden region, the tariffs based on the original 2014 tariff decision turned out to be higher than anticipated.

When the new tariff structure was discussed in 2012 with the entire sector, it was agreed upon, among other things, that, for the Scheldemonden region, the tariffs would not rise at a macro level in 2014. Individual tariffs could decrease or increase, but the overall effect would have to remain zero. In reality, the tariffs for the Scheldemonden region increased on average by 6.77% from January 2014.

One of the reasons behind this discrepancy between the sectoral agreement and the actual tariffs is that the sectoral agreement was based on figures from 2010, and the 2014 tariff proposal on actual figures from 2012. These figures differed from each other considerably.

ACM’s role in the pilotage tariffs

Maritime pilots enjoy a monopoly position. That is why ACM, under the Dutch Pilotage Act, assesses whether or not they charge unreasonably high tariffs. ACM annually sets the pilotage tariffs based on a tariff proposal that the Dutch Pilots’ Corporation (NLc) submits halfway through the year. ACM may deviate from the proposal if it believes that NLc’s proposal would insufficiently help in achieving the most efficient production process or productivity levels, or in case of special circumstances. The court has ruled that the unexpected outcome with regard to the 2014 tariffs must be considered a special circumstance.