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U.S. Federal Maritime Commission to Issue Demand Orders to Ocean Carriers and Terminal Operators on Detention & Demurrage Practices

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February 17, 2021

The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission is ordering ocean carriers and marine terminal operators to supply information to determine if legal obligations related to detention and demurrage practices are being met amid the unprecedented cargo boom at U.S. ports.

The information demand orders are being issued under the authority FMC Commissioner Rebecca F. Dye as the Fact Finding Officer for Fact Finding 29, “International Ocean Transportation Supply Chain Engagement”, which was launched in March 2020. Targets of the orders are the ocean carriers operating in an alliance and calling the Port of Los Angeles, the Port of Long Beach, or the Port of New York & New Jersey. Marine terminal operators (MTOs) at those ports will also be subject to information demands.

The demand orders will also require carriers and MTOs to provide information on their policies and practices related to container returns and container availability for exporters.

Failure of carriers and MTOs to operate in a way consistent with the Interpretive Rule on Detention and Demurrage that became effective on May 18, 2020, might constitute a violation of 46 USC 41102(c) which prohibits unjust and unreasonable practices and regulations related to, or connected with, receiving, handling, storing, or delivering property.

Information received from parties receiving demands may be used as a basis for hearings, Commission enforcement action or further rulemaking.

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