The Federal Maritime Commission has published a multimedia presentation that gives a step-by-step instruction on how the public can bring complaints at the FMC. These can range from reporting information that may trigger an investigation to initiating formal civil litigation that can provide wronged parties damages and restitution.

Viewers will learn how to determine which process is most beneficial to achieving a complainant’s desired outcome. The video has three segments that explain how to report a potential violation of the law to Commission investigative staff for possible enforcement action; how to work with the Commission’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution Services (CADRS) to achieve speedy commercial solutions; and finally, how to file small claims or formal civil complaints heard by the Commission’s Administrative Law Judge.

Each segment provides instruction on how to initiate a process, information the Commission will require to move forward, and an explanation of how each process will progress, including potential outcomes.

Creating an instructional video explaining the different complaints processes and their respective merits was one of the Interim Recommendations made by Commissioner Rebecca F. Dye in July 2021 resulting from her work leading Fact Finding 29. During her investigation, she found that some members of the trade community were confused about how to approach the Federal Maritime Commission to report suspected wrongdoing or to seek formal relief.

Commissioner Dye said, “One of my recommendations to the Commission arising from Fact Finding 29 was to provide more information to the public about our programs and avenues of redress for stakeholder problems available here at the Commission. I am pleased that this webinar advances that goal and I look forward to the development of additional tools by the Commission to assist the public.”

This webinar complements an advisory Commissioner Dye issued in February outlining ways in which parties can pursue demurrage and detention complaints.

The video can be watched in its entirety, but for viewers looking to jump to a particular section, information on reporting a violation begins at 3:50, instructions on how to work with CADRS begins at 8:30, and an explanation of the civil litigation process begins at 13:21.

The Federal Maritime Commission’s Vessel-Operating Common Carrier (VOCC) Audit Program will be evaluating how shipping lines are serving U.S. export shippers.

The added emphasis on carrier export performance and service was directed by FMC Chairman Daniel B. Maffei and will involve meetings with 11 carriers to discuss their export programs.

Ocean carriers are now being asked to share information about the export services they offer American shippers. Responses will provide better insight into not only market trends and performance, but where opportunities exist for individual lines to improve or increase access to service offerings.

The VOCC Audit Program was established in July 2021 by Chairman Maffei and aligns with recommendations made by Commissioner Rebecca F. Dye as part of her work on Fact Finding 29. The initial mandate of the VOCC Audit Program was to assess ocean carrier compliance with the FMC’s rule on demurrage and detention and to identify and gather additional information beneficial to the continuous monitoring the Commission conducts of the marketplace for ocean cargo services. Since its launch, the VOCC Audit Program has collected information on detention and demurrage policies from the nine largest ocean carriers by market share, provided briefings to ocean carriers on the Commission rule interpreting 46 USC 41102(c) as it applies to detention and demurrage practices, communicated best practices with ocean carriers, and continues to receive quarterly data on detention and demurrage metrics.

Lucille Marvin, the Commission’s Managing Director, continues her leadership of both the VOCC Audit Program and the VOCC Audit Team

The announcement is part of an ongoing effort by Chairman Maffei to use the Commission’s authorities whenever possible to assist exporters. The Chairman has already assigned an advocate to the Office of Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution Services (CADRS) to assist export shippers. Further, he has directed the Bureau of Enforcement (BoE) and CADRS to prioritize any cases involving exporters. Also this week, BoE is initiating an examination of the conduct of five independent container ship lines in terms of the service those companies offer American exporters.

The shipping companies being questioned by BoE do not traditionally operate in U.S. trade lanes but entered the marketplace in response to historically high rates shippers are paying to import cargo to the United States.

The companies in question will provide specific information related to vessel calls they have made to the United States since June 2021, including the number of loaded and empty containers carried on a ship’s return journey to Asia. BoE will assess responses to determine if further actions are warranted.

The Federal Maritime Commission has extended the deadline to file comments on the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on Demurrage and Detention Billing Requirements (Docket No. 22-04) until April 16, 2022.

Information the Commission seeks and instructions on how to submit comments are specified in a February 15, 2022, Federal Register notice.

The Commission initiated the ANPRM to gauge if a new rule governing demurrage and detention billing practices would benefit the trade and should apply to marine terminal operators and non-vessel-operating common carriers in addition to vessel-operating common carriers.

The ANPRM was issued in response to information developed by Commissioner Rebecca F. Dye as part of her work leading Fact Finding 29. In July 2021, she identified issuing an ANPRM on these topics as one of the Interim Recommendations provided to the Commission on how the agency can address complaints and issues related to demurrage and detention.