Refunds for fee complaints reach $1 million milestone Ship’s crew

More than $1 million in disputed fees have been waived or refunded under the Fee Complaints Procedure established by the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 (OSRA) and administered by the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). This milestone was reached on May 1, 2023, just over 10 months after OSRA went into effect on June 16, 2022.

OSRA amended the Shipping Act, empowering the Federal Maritime Commission to promptly investigate “information about complaints about charges assessed by a common carrier” and order refunds and/or penalties for charges that do not comply with relevant regulations.

Fee Complaints provide a simplified and expedited process for carriers, consignees, truck drivers and third parties to dispute fees that may have been incorrectly assessed by a common carrier.

While complaints about the adequacy of a demurrage or holding charge are usually the most common, charges or fees imposed by other carriers that do not comply with relevant regulations may be submitted for investigation.

Disputes may also be resolved through other methods such as small claims or formal complaints, or through dispute resolution services. The total amount of fees waived or refunded through the Fees Complaints Procedure does not include penalties or settlements obtained through enforcement action by the Commission.

The Commission continues to work on the implementation of the numerous regulations prescribed by OSRA. In March, the Commission issued one last rule Modified its policy and procedure regarding penalties and refunds in line with the power established by OSRA to order a refund of fees paid under a fee complaint process.

The Commission is also working on rules to address demurrage and detention settlement requirements, unreasonable refusals to trade or negotiate in relation to ship’s space, and unfair or unjustified discriminatory practices. Rulemaking addressing unfair or unfairly discriminatory practices is expected to be issued after the Supplemental Notice on Proposed Rulemaking on Unreasonable Denial of Trade.

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