A settlement has been reached in relation to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission litigation concerning the waterfront.

The settlement has been endorsed today by the Federal Court of Australia.

The settlement provides that a damages fund of up to $7.5 million, funded by Patrick Stevedore Holdings Pty Ltd, will be available for small businesses damaged by the boycotts during the dispute.

Also, the Maritime Union of Australia has provided a formal undertaking to the Federal Court not to repeat boycotts alleged to be unlawful by the ACCC during the dispute.

The damages fund will be administered by a trustee and payments will be subject to proof of losses arising from the waterfront dispute.

Small businesses which do not have an alternative claim for compensation, such as insurance, will be given priority over other claimants on the fund. A limit will be set on individual claims.

The undertaking is for two years.

There is an associated dispute settlement procedure.

The undertaking does not apply to normal industrial relations actions protected under the TPA or Workplace Relations Act 1996. It also does not apply to lawful conduct to ensure compliance with relevant occupational health and safety legislation nor for the protection of international seafarers through the MUA's flags of convenience campaign.

"The ACCC is satisfied with the outcome," ACCC Chairman, Professor Allan Fels, said today. "Its objectives were:

  • compensation to small business damaged by the dispute; and
  • an appropriate undertaking to the Court by the MUA, as is usual in TPA cases, not to repeat similar behaviour".

These objects have been met and the ACCC has agreed to settle the case.