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The Federal Maritime Commission has hired Phillip C. “Chris” Hughey as General Counsel and appointed him to be a member of the Senior Executive Service.


In his capacity as General Counsel to the Commission, Mr. Hughey will provide legal advice and recommendations to the Chairman and Commissioners on regulatory and policy matters. He will serve as a member of the agency’s senior management team and will also be responsible for supervising the work of attorneys assigned to the Office of the General Counsel.


Mr. Hughey began his career in public service in 1997 as an attorney in the Office of the General Counsel at the FMC, and later served as the Commission’s Deputy General Counsel. In 2007, he joined the Federal Election Commission (FEC) as its Deputy General Counsel, and was designated as the FEC’s Acting General Counsel from August 2010 to September 2011. Mr. Hughey assumes his new role at the FMC following a ten-year career in the U.S. Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer, where his postings included Brazil, Kuwait, and Madagascar.


“We are fortunate to have Chris Hughey join the Commission as the General Counsel. His prior FMC experience and litigation background is valuable. He is uniquely qualified to assume these duties and my colleagues and I will benefit from his legal counsel,” said Chairman Daniel Maffei.


Mr. Hughey possesses extensive experience as a litigator, having argued cases before the Supreme Court of the United States, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the District of Columbia and Fourth Circuits, and the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.


Mr. Hughey earned J.D. and LL.M. degrees from Cornell University in 1996, an MPA from Harvard University in 2007, and a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 1993. He is admitted to the bars of the State of New York, the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Demurrage and detention billing practices of vessel operating common carriers (VOCCs), non-vessel-operating common carriers (NVOCCs), and marine terminal operators (MTOs) must be more clear, have more structure and have more punctuality -- this is the goal of the new rule that the Federal Maritime Commission is proposing.


This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) is responsive to a requirement of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 (OSRA) and continues work the Commission initiated in 2018 when it ordered an investigation (Fact Finding 28) led by Commissioner Rebecca F. Dye into conditions and practices of VOCCS and MTOs related to demurrage, detention, and per diem charges. That fact finding led to the Commission issuing a final rule in May 2020 addressing how the reasonableness of demurrage and detention practices of VOCCs and MTOs will be interpreted.


If this proposed rule is adopted, VOCCs, NVOCCs, and MTOs will all be required to issue bills for demurrage or detention only to parties that they have a contractual relationship with, to be clear regarding the nature of the charges, and issue invoices within 30 days after the charges stop accruing, and provide 30 days to dispute the charges with clear information about how charges should be disputed.


Specifically, the Commission is proposing four actions in this NPRM:

  • Adopting the list of minimum information that common carriers must include in demurrage or detention invoices as mandated in OSRA and codified at 46 U.S.C. 41104(d)(2).

  • Adding to the list referenced immediately above additional information that must be included in or with a demurrage or detention invoice.

  • Further defining prohibited practices by clarifying which parties may be billed for demurrage or detention charges.

  • Establishing billing practices that billing parties must follow when invoicing for demurrage or detention charges.

The Commission is proposing that a properly issued invoice is only issued to the person that has contracted with the billing party for the carriage of goods or space to store cargo and the billed party is responsible for the payment of any incurred demurrage or detention charge.


The Commission is specifically interested in receiving comments on whether it would be appropriate to include the consignee named on the bill of lading as another party who may receive a demurrage or detention invoice.


Interested parties will have 60 days to submit comments to the Commission once the NPRM is published in the Federal Register. The Commission is now using the Regulations.gov portal to receive filed comments. A link within the Federal Register notice will take commenters to a page established for this NPRM. You may submit comments identified by docket number FMC-2022-0066 at https://www.regulations.gov.


This NPRM follows an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) (Docket No. 22-04) on demurrage and detention billing practices issued in February. That ANPRM was issued in response to an interim recommendation made by Commissioner Dye resulting from her work leading Fact Finding 29, “International Ocean Transportation Supply Chain Engagement,” examining COVID-19 related effects on the ocean-linked supply chain. The Commission received over 80 comments from VOCCs, NVOs, MTOs, shippers, and other parties involved in the transportation of ocean containers in response to the request for public comments issued in the ANPRM. Information provided in those filings were considered in drafting this NPRM.


This NPRM is the latest initiative taken by the FMC to implement OSRA, signed into law by President Joseph R. Biden on June 16, 2022. Commission progress in meeting the requirements established by the law can be found on the dedicated “OSRA Implementation” landing page established on the Commission’s website.

The National Academies of Science (NAS) will be conducting a study examining intermodal chassis pools and provide recommendations on best practices for their management after the Federal Maritime Commission awarded them a $500,000 contract.


The study was mandated by Section 19 of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 (OSRA).

Under this agreement, a NAS consensus committee of independent experts will study the different approaches for supplying the chassis used by motor carriers, railroads, marine terminal operators, and other stakeholders to transport intermodal ocean containers. The committee will examine currently existing chassis pool models and identify the advantages and disadvantages of each.


As directed by the law, the study will consider whether the models have aligned incentives in ownership, management, repair, and provisioning that lead to supply chain efficiency. Additionally, the committee will evaluate the potential for efficiency-enhancing communications, information sharing, and knowledge management practices across chassis pool models.


The committee will use the findings from their research to determine which circumstances and models for provisioning chassis most support an efficiently functioning supply chain, and will identify the best practices from each examined model that can further increase efficiency. The committee will identify the conditions necessary to implement each model, including practical obstacles to implementation and their possible solutions.


Committee members will serve without compensation. This committee will be appointed over the next several weeks and the public will be provided with an opportunity to comment on the makeup of the committee. Individuals interested in serving on the study committee, or in suggesting candidates, should contact Thomas Menzies and Mark Hutchins of the NAS Transportation Research Board.


The Commission is meeting this requirement of OSRA a full seven months ahead of the statutorily established deadline of April 2023. This contract award is the latest action the Commission has taken in implementing OSRA since its enactment in June of this year. The Commission has established a dedicated landing page that consolidates all information about OSRA related actions.

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