FMC seeks details of carrier, terminal demurrage practices

Date: Thursday, April 5, 2018
Source: American Shipper

 The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has asked container carriers and marine terminals to provide detailed information about their port demurrage, detention and free-time practices as part of its investigation announced on March 5.
   "The ultimate resolution of this investigation will have the potential to affect every ocean common carrier calling the United States. It is vital that the information we gather is representative of business and operational practices, as well as market conditions, nationally," said FMC Commissioner Rebecca Dye, who is heading the investigation, Fact Finding 28.
   The FMC’s investigation follows a petition filed in December 2016 by a coalition of shippers, associations and trucking organizations. The petition asked the FMC to adopt a policy to restrict ocean carriers’ ability to assess what the coalition deemed unreasonable detention, demurrage, and per diem penalties, particularly when the cause of the infractions was beyond the control of cargo owners’ or their representatives.
   The problem first came to a head during a period of intense congestion at U.S. West Coast ports in late 2014 and early 2015, and again during the aftermath of Hanjin Shipping’s bankruptcy in August 2016.
   The FMC held two days of hearings in mid-January to hear from a range of stakeholders on the petition, including importers, shipper associations, drayage providers, carriers and terminal operators.
   Dye said it’s also “critical” that shippers, drayage operators, and others who can document their specific allegations of "unreasonable" port detention and demurrage practices and fees by the ocean carriers and marine terminals to “step forward and cooperate with the investigation.”
   She added, "We expect concerned parties to participate robustly in this investigation. Their cooperation is essential.”
   Those details can be emailed to the FMC at FF28@fmc.gov or by mailing FMC Commissioner Dye at 800 North Capitol Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20573. 
   Dye has been granted broad authority to conduct the Fact Finding 28 investigation, including the power to issue subpoenas, hold public and non-public sessions, and require reports.
   The FMC expects to release an interim report of its findings and recommendations for Fact Finding 28 by Sept. 2. A final report will be issued to the commission for consideration, discussion and vote by no later than Dec. 2. 

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