FILE PHOTO: Shipping containers sit on the dock at a container terminal at the Port of Long Beach-Port of Los Angeles complex, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., April 7, 2021. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

FMC to Issue Guidance on Complaint Proceedings and Seeks Comments on Demurrage and Detention Billings

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September 15, 2021

The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission has voted to move forward with two demurrage-and-detention related initiatives proposed by Commissioner Rebecca F. Dye as part of Fact Finding 29.

Unlike Commissioner Dye’s other Interim Recommendations, these initiatives required formal Commission approval. The FMC ordered Fact Finding No. 29 back in March 2020 to investigate congestion and bottlenecks at ports and other points in the supply chain that posed a serious risk to the U.S. economy. As the Fact Finding Officer, Commissioner Dye was tasked with working with working with industry stakeholders to identify commercial solutions to some of the worst supply chain problems facing American exporters, importers, and truckers.

The first initiative is to issue a policy statement on issues that affect the ability of shippers, truckers, and others to obtain reparations for conduct that violates the Shipping Act, including conduct related to demurrage and detention. The policy statement will provide guidance on the scope of the prohibition against carrier retaliation, when attorney fees may be imposed on a non-prevailing party, and who may file a complaint with the Commission alleging unreasonable conduct.

Additionally, the Commission will issue an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) in due course that will solicit public comments on two questions: first, whether the Commission should require ocean common carriers and marine terminal operators (MTOs) to include certain minimum information on or with demurrage and detention billings; and second, whether the Commission should require carriers and marine terminal operators to adhere to certain practices regarding the timing of demurrage and detention billings.

The Commission has also moved forward with other recommendations from FF29, including hiring additional staff for CADRS, including one person who will be designated as the agency’s exporter advocate. The Commission will make announcements related to other recommendations as developments warrant.

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