Tallink takes Port of Tallinn to court

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Tallink CEO Paavo Nõgene. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Shipping line Tallink Grupp is suing state owned Port of Tallinn (Tallinna Sadam) over fees covering a three-year period. Tallink, whose claim totals €15.4 million, says the fees were excessively high.

Tallink filed the legal claim at Harju County Court Monday. The port fees concern the main ferry harbor in central Tallinn, and Tallink is citing the terms of the Competition Act in its claim.

Tallink CEO Paavo Nõgene said: "Tallink Grupp and the Port of Tallinn have held negotiations to ensure equitable pricing for the services provided in Tallinn Old City Harbor for quite some time already, including already in 2018. We believe that the Port of Tallinn has a dominant position in various goods markets, primarily in the market for providing port services at Tallinn's Old City Harbor."

Port of Tallinn: We have most competitive prices in region

The Port of Tallinn has called the claim unreasonable, and says that it has a transparent pricing policy, which dates back to 2016 and which have not risen in line with inflation.

The Port of Tallinn also says that it conducts no special deals with any passenger ferry lines, while its fees are highly competitive for the region, being lower than those in Helsinki or Stockholm while providing modern facilities.

Paavo Nõgene said Monday that negotiations over a period of several years, rising to a crescendo in recent months, had not got anywhere, adding that the Port of Tallinn used its market position and stock exchange listing (while the company is state owned it started issuing shares on the Tallinn stock market in 2018 – ed.) to charge fees on a non-transparent basis. He also rejected the claim that the fees were relatively lower than those of Helsinki or Stockholm.

Tallink CEO: Lengthy negotiations have come to naught

Nõgene said: "In our experience the fees charged by Tallinn Old City Harbor are some of the highest in the region. This fact is corroborated by previous legal analyses and expert assessments, which demonstrated that port fees charged by the Port of Tallinn at the old city harbor, taking into account purchasing power parity, are considerably higher than fees charged for comparable services in Helsinki and Stockholm, for instance."

"According to the analysis, the fees charged by Port of Tallinn are on average at least 20 percent higher [than those of Helsinki or Stockholm], and in most cases the percentage is even higher," Nogene went on.

The Port of Tallinn has said it is ready to resolve the matter via compromise, BNS reports.

The Port of Tallinn reported close to €30 million profits for 2020 despite the pandemic, likely a reflection of continued, or even increased, cargo flows, while passenger numbers were eviscerated.

The company operates not only ports in Tallinn and its vicinity (e.g. in Kopli and Muuga) but also Paldiski, west of Tallinn.

The firm has also been at the epicenter of a long-running corruption trial.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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