The Surface Transportation Board (STB) today announced its adoption of final rules to revise its arbitration methods in compliance with the requirements outlined in the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2015, P.L. 114-110 (2015) (Act).
An arbitration process mandated by the Act is voluntary and binding, similar to the STB’s existing arbitration rules.
In response to the Act, the STB introduced several changes to its existing arbitration rules in May 2016.
For example, the Act mandated that rail rate disputes be qualified for voluntary arbitration; under prior STB regulations, parties involved could elect arbitration of rate disputes in individual cases, but rate disputes were not automatically suitable for adjudication.
The Act also set caps for arbitral awards of $25 million in rate disputes and $2 million in unreasonable practice cases, such as demurrage, accessorial charges and misrouting/mishandling rail cars, as well as other concerns.
Adjustments to various facets of the existing rules were also called for by the Act, such as beginning arbitration, maintaining a roster of qualified arbitrators and choosing a single or lead judge for a proceeding.
“During my tenure as chairman, I have advocated for greater use of alternative dispute resolution,” said STB Chairman Daniel R. Elliott III. “The STB Reauthorization Act further enhances arbitration as an effective means to resolve disputes outside of formal litigation. The final rules are another accomplishment in leveraging the tools made available under the Act.”
Officials say the board collected and contemplated public feedback before adopting the final rules and putting the requirements of the Act into effect.