Argentine Court Rejects Toll Collection Suspension on the Paraná-Paraguay WaterwayOct, 31, 2023 Posted by Gabriel Malheiros
The Federal Court of Appeals for Civil and Commercial Matters rejected an appeal made by the companies Petrolera San Antonio and Mercopar against a lower court ruling that denied their request to suspend toll collection established by Resolution 1023/22 of the Ministry of Transportation of the Nation.
The petitioner companies also requested that national authorities refrain from taking measures to collect the fee or impede the navigation of vessels used for their commercial activity in transporting goods on the Paraguay and Paraná rivers.
The companies argued that Resolution 1023/22, by attempting to collect a toll fee on the navigable trunk route from kilometer 1,238 to kilometer 548 of the Paraná River, constituted an “obstacle” to international navigation and a breach of international treaties and the national constitution.
They also pointed out that although the rules of the Agreement on River Transport by the Paraguay-Paraná Waterway, signed with the Republics of Bolivia, Federative Brazil, Paraguay, and Oriental Uruguay, and approved by the Argentine Republic through Law 24,385, provide a Protocol for Dispute Settlement, arbitration is only for signatory countries and is inapplicable to individuals.
The Second Chamber of the Federal Court of Appeals for Civil and Commercial Matters, in line with the lower court’s decision, found that the companies had not exhausted administrative remedies, a requirement stipulated by the law as a preliminary step before pursuing a legal claim.
The court emphasized that, since the claim made by Petrolera San Antonio and Mercopar was a “clear challenge” to the regulation of National Executive Order 1023/22, they should have first complied with Article 24 of Administrative Procedures Law 19,549, which demands the filing of an administrative complaint with the same authority that issued the regulation.
Judges Eduardo Gottardi, Florencia Nallar, and Alfredo Gusman pointed out that Law 26,854 requires that, in such cases, a judicial lawsuit must be preceded by the exhaustion of administrative remedies or, if the suspension of the effects of an act has been requested, that no response has been received within five days, which was not proven in this case.
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