Federal Maritime Commission Releases Industry Advisory on Royalty Complaints – Marine/Shipping

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On June 16, 2022, President Biden signed into law the Shipping Reform Act of 2022 (“OSRA 2022”), which amended the Shipping Act of 1984 (“the Shipping Act”). Among the various changes, OSRA 2022 included a new section for fee complaints, which established an expedited process for parties disputing fees assessed by common carriers. See 46 USC § 41310. Upon receipt of a charges complaint, the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) must promptly initiate its investigation and may ultimately order reimbursement of charges paid or impose a civil penalty.

The FMC recently released a Industry Council for parties interested in filing complaints of accusation and outlined the following steps:

  1. Identify the common carrier.

  2. Specify the alleged violations of 46 USC §§ 41102 and/or 41104(a).

  3. Provide supporting documentation (e.g. invoices, bill of lading numbers, proof that charges have been paid, etc.).

  4. Confirm that the disputed charge arose on or after enactment of OSRA 2022.

  5. Submit all relevant documents to chargecomplaints@fmc.gov.

Although FMC’s Notice to Industry notes that parties are to confirm the incur date, this issue remains uncertain, given the statutory wording of OSRA 2022, legislative intent during the drafting process and adoption of the “FMC Interpretative Rule on Demurrage and Detention under the Shipping Act.” See 85 Fed. Reg. 29,638 (May 18, 2020). Additionally, stakeholders will likely seek further clarification on this point from the FMC and members of Congress who were instrumental in the drafting and passage of OSRA 2022.

We continue to monitor developments impacting the maritime trade sector. If you have any questions about filing charges complaints or the impact of OSRA 2022 on your business, please contact Venable. International Trade and Logistics Group for information.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.

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