Samsung Electronics and Zim are looking to settle the South Korean giant’s US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) complaint over two years’ worth of alleged misconduct.
Attorneys for Zim filed papers with the commission on 18 November asking for an extension to file an answer to Samsung Electronics America’s October complaint accusing it of failing to complete deliveries of goods, levying nearly 10,000 detention and demurrage charges, charging those fees twice and retaliating once it complained.
The request was granted the same day by FMC administrative law judge Erin Wirth.
“Senior representatives of the parties met in person on Wednesday, November 16 to discuss the possibility of an amicable resolution of the matters which are the subject of the complaint in this proceeding,” Zim’s motion read.
“Both parties are of the view, based on that meeting, that there is a realistic possibility of reaching agreement on a resolution of this matter by year’s end.”
It said an extension until 19 December was necessary because filing an answer triggers a number of other deadlines that the parties would have to meet, expending resources while trying to pursue settlement discussions.
New Jersey-based Samsung Electronics America is the largest company to file an FMC complaint against a liner operator since complaints began picking up last summer.
It alleges that, starting in late 2020, Zim “repeatedly and chronically” failed to perform deliveries, which included “store door” terms covering both ocean and inland shipping.
Samsung said its containers were stuck in port or other facilities as Zim blamed congestion, weather and trucker and chassis shortages.
Still, the Israeli company allegedly levied detention and demurrage charges on those containers. Sometimes, it sent invoices for the same charge multiple times, Samsung said, often without much information on what the charges were for.
After Samsung asked for more information, Zim allegedly started refusing cargo shipments or holding containers.
There was no dollar figure for how much Samsung was charged, but it said it had received more than 2,000 demurrage charges and more than 7,000 detention charges.
Before Samsung, the highest-profile complaint came from Pennsylvania furniture manufacturer MCS Industries against Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC).
It was the first to file a complaint with the FMC, the US government panel tasked with regulating international shipping and seemingly handed a mandate from President Joe Biden to look into the container shipping industry in the summer of 2021.
MCS Industries accused MSC of signing a contract guaranteeing a certain quantity of cargo would be carried before refusing the shipment and pushing MCS Industries into a pricey spot market.
MSC has been threatened with a default judgment over discovery issues but has maintained the issue is simply a contract dispute.