Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC) has doubled down in its legal battle with US shipper MCS Industries.

The liner operator said that claims before the US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) that it did not meet its contractual obligations were “meritless”.

The company filed its response to the FMC on 22 September and would continue to defend the case “vigorously”, it added.

“MSC has investigated the matter and has concluded that MCS Industries’ difficulties with its cargo bookings arose from errors and communication issues,” the carrier said.

The issues and errors were “between MCS Industries and third-party intermediaries, and not from any wrongdoing by MSC”, it added.

MSC’s swift response comes after a US judge had threatened a judgment against the carrier.

FMC administrative law judge Erin Worth asked the carrier in early September to explain why she should not issue a default judgment against MSC.

The question was posed after the liner giant opted to request an extension rather than turn over documents by a 29 August deadline.

‘No basis’

But the Geneva-based carrier said it “does not believe there is a basis for default judgement”.

“By its terms, the Judge’s order concerns a discovery dispute and not the merits of the case,” the company said.

The carrier also reiterated the view that Swiss law prevents it from producing certain documents without proper authorisation from the Swiss authorities.

“MSC is fully cooperating with the FMC and has proposed a process that will allow it to fully comply with both US and Swiss law,” it said.

‘No collusion’

The legal dispute dates back to July 2021.

That is when Pennsylvania-based furniture manufacturer MCS Industries filed a complaint with the FMC alleging that the carrier refused to honour its carriage contract.

This forced the shipper into the spot market to find space for its cargoes, costing it $600,000, it alleged.

But the liner giant sees its dispute with the shipper as contractual, adding there are no claims of collusion.

“MCS Industries entirely abandoned all of its unsupported claims of collusion when it amended its complaint last year,” the carrier added.

MCS Industries was the first company to file a complaint with the FMC after President Joe Biden issued an executive order last summer prompting the government to take a closer look at competition in the container shipping industry.