As you may recall, a large number of other trade associations, that was collectively referred to as the Coalition for Fair Port Practices, filed a petition with the FMC earlier this year raising concerns associated with detention, demurrage and per diem charges assessed during periods of port congestion. Essentially, the Coalition, of which the NCBFAA is a member, requested the FMC to establish an interpretive rule that would require the carriers and ports to extend the number of free days accorded NVOCCs and cargo interests during those periods when congestion, severe weather, or other issues prevented parties from timely picking up or returning containers to the ports and the carriers.
The Commission has just issued a Notice indicating that it will hold public hearings on January 16 and 17, 2018 to address those issues. The Commission is inviting interested persons from the different facets of the maritime industry to testify at these hearings concerning the issues that have arisen and the costs that the carriers and ports are passing along during these somewhat extreme conditions.
In the Commission’s press release, Acting Chairman Khouri indicated that he intended to explore the legal issue of whether the Commission can craft a general rule of universal nationwide applicability on detention, demurrage or per diem provisions given the wide variety of commercial terms and conditions that are in service contracts and marine terminal operator tariffs. Another issue that the Commission will raise will relate to the different operating protocols used at and by the various MTOs around the country. Of course, the FMC is also interested in hearing testimony concerning individual problems that are experienced in these situations, the costs associated with them and how the port and carriers reacted.
Anyone wishing to provide testimony needs to send a request to that effect to the Commission no later than Friday, December 8, 2176. That request should include the name of the potential witness, the company they represent, their contact information and a summary of that person’s intended testimony.
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