Draft Bill to Prohibit Carriers From Charging Detention & Demurrage Fees

A draft bill, dubbed the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021, proposes to prohibit carriers from collecting detention and demurrage fees in cases when “obstacles to cargo retrieval or return of equipment are ... beyond the control of the invoiced or contracting party,” according to Peter Tirschwell of The Journal of Commerce online.

The draft bill will also strengthen the oversight role of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) and put a heavy regulatory burden on ocean carriers, Mr. Tirschwell writes.

The draft bill by Rep. John Garamendi, D-Ca, is likely to be introduced before the August recess begins, sources told Mr. Tirschwell, and will overhaul the existing US shipping law. reports that under the draft bill, it would be much more difficult for container lines to refuse to carry export cargo or prioritize repositioning of empties at the expense of ports.

In addition, Mr. Tirschwell continues, it would go further than current law in barring unreasonable denial of service by a carrier, saying a carrier “may not ... fail to furnish or cause a contractor to fail to furnish the facilities and instrumentalities needed to perform the transportation services, including containers.”

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