The Customs Brokers & Forwarders Council of Australia is seeking tens of millions of dollars in compensation for the bungled introduction of a new computer system at major ports.
The council is seeking compensation following the failed introduction of the $200 million Integrated Cargo System (ICS) by the Australian Customs Service.
ICS was introduced on October 12 to replace a 20-year old legacy system, but technical glitches left wharves and air terminals choked with uncleared imports.
While repairs are underway, importers claim problems are likely to persist until the middle of next year.
Andrew Hudson, a Melbourne lawyer representing customs brokers and freight forwarders, is hoping the federal government will meet the compensation claims without the case going to court.
Hudson said the full extent of the compensation claims were not yet clear and would not be for some time.
"I think it would be in the tens of millions; the bulk of the costs will come from storage charges from the ports and container companies," he said.
"There will be costs associated with people missing out on business; there will be costs for people who have had to work overtime because the system was working slowly.
"There is also likely to be some stress claims because people have worked very long hours in very frustrating circumstances to try and get goods cleared."
Stephen Morris, Customs Brokers & Forwarders Council of Australia chief executive, said there was evidence to show some people were leaving the industry because of the new system.
Morris also said brokers would be less inclined to deal with small importers.
He said October 12 wasn't exactly a shining light in Customs modernization programs.