MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court.
The underlying dispute here is whether vessel owners or consignees will pay charges
The Port of Boston Marine Terminal Association is a conference of maritime terminal operators acting pursuant to an agreement
In 1965 there was a longshoremen's strike that caused cargo to be left on the wharves beyond the five-day— free time—limit. Several vessels refused to pay the revised charges; and the Terminal Association brought a state court action for damages and declaratory relief
The District Court stayed the proceedings to allow the Shipping Association to obtain a ruling by the Commission on the validity of the change. On June 23, 1967, after a full evidentiary hearing, the Commission issued a report and order concluding that prior approval was not necessary because shifting the incidence of the charge did not "constitute a new agreement or a modification to the existing agreement calling for a new . . . rate-fixing scheme not contemplated in the original agreement."
On September 19, 1967, the Shipping Association petitioned the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for review. But since the petition was filed after the expiration of the 60-day period specified in the Administrative Orders Review Act, 28 U. S. C. § 2344 (1964 ed., Supp. V), the petition was dismissed as untimely. On September 4, 1968, Rederiaktiebolaget Transatlantic, respondent here and one of the carrier-vessels that had been assessed charges, filed an application with the Commission for reconsideration. Transatlantic claimed that it had been represented by an agent
Transatlantic did not seek direct judicial review of the Commission's denial of the application for rehearing. Instead, it moved to intervene
Transatlantic, the only defendant to appeal, was more successful in the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. That court concluded that Transatlantic was not a party to the Commission proceeding and, therefore, was free to seek independent collateral review of the merits of the Commission's order in the District Court. The Court of Appeals also accepted Transatlantic's position on the
Transatlantic argues that the District Court erred at the outset in referring the case to the Commission. But this Court recognized early in the development of administrative agencies that coordination between traditional judicial machinery and these agencies was necessary if consistent and coherent policy were to emerge. See Texas & P. R. Co. v. Abilene Cotton Oil Co., 204 U.S. 426 (1907). The doctrine of primary jurisdiction has become one of the key judicial switches through which this current has passed.
This is an almost classic case for engaging the doctrine. Plainly, the Federal Maritime Commission is primarily responsible for supervising these conferences of marine terminal operators. Just five years earlier, the Commission approved the very agreement that established the basic pattern of this conference's operation, and the scope of this same agreement was the subject of the
The District Court also concluded correctly that it was without authority to review the merits of the Commission's decision. The Administrative Orders Review Act is explicit: "The court of appeals has exclusive jurisdiction to . . . determine the validity of . . . such final orders of the Federal Maritime Commission . . . ." 28 U. S. C. § 2342 (1964 ed., Supp. V). Consolo v. FMC, 383 U.S. 607, 613 (1966); Far East Conference v. United States, 342 U.S. 570, 577 (1952).
It is true that § 31 of the Shipping Act, 46 U. S. C. § 830, states that "except as herein otherwise provided" the procedures governing suits to "enforce, suspend, or set aside, in whole or in part, any order of the [Federal Maritime Commission]"
This Court in Consolo pointed out,
Transatlantic argues that even if the Administrative Orders Review Act provides the exclusive method for reviewing final orders of the Maritime Commission, the Commission's order here was not a final order. But its argument that the order lacked finality because it had
Here there was no possible disruption of the administrative process; there was nothing else for the Commission to do. And certainly the Commission's action was expected to and did have legal consequences.
The final proffered argument to justify a collateral attack on the Commission's order is that Transatlantic was not a party to the proceeding before the Commission and not bound by the Commission's action. Although Transatlantic was not named as a party, it was in fact represented before the Commission and has previously made numerous claims to party status.
Even if Transatlantic was not a formal party its interests were clearly at stake. And it had every opportunity to participate before the Commission and then to seek timely review in the Court of Appeals. It chose not to do so. Certainly, from this posture, it cannot force collateral redetermination of the same issue in a different and inappropriate forum. United States v. Western P. R. Co., 352 U.S. 59, 69 (1956).
Since the time for Court of Appeals review had run, the decision of the Federal Maritime Commission had become final when the case returned to the District Court. After that return neither the District Court nor any Court of Appeals nor this Court had or has authority to review the merits of that decision.
"Every such carrier and every other person subject to this chapter shall establish, observe, and enforce just and reasonable regulations and practices relating to or connected with the receiving, handling, storing, or delivering of property. Whenever the Board finds that any such regulation or practice is unjust or unreasonable it may determine, prescribe, and order enforced a just and reasonable regulation or practice." 46 U. S. C. § 816.