If you are a US shipper and you feel wronged by a liner operator, the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is ready to help you explore the options available to you.
The US regulator on Monday published a 22-minute long video exploring the options the public has to bring complaints, from reporting potential violations that the FMC would investigate to initiating civil litigation that could result in damages.
“One of my recommendations to the commission arising from Fact Finding 29 was to provide more information to the public about our programmes and avenues of redress for stakeholder problems available here at the commission,” commissioner Rebecca Dye said in a statement.
“I am pleased that this webinar advances that goal and I look forward to the development of additional tools by the commission to assist the public.”
Fact Finding 29 is the FMC initiative to examine issues related to the US supply chain brought to the fore by Covid-19.
The video explores three potential avenues for making complaints to the commission: reports to its investigative staff for potential enforcement action, working with its Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution Services for commercial solutions and how to file small claims or civil complaints to be heard by an administrative law judge.
It discusses how to initiate a process, what the commission will need to move forward, how each process will progress and potential outcomes.
The FMC has taken a more proactive stance toward the shipping industry since President Joe Biden signed an executive order last summer on competitiveness in the US economy.
In that order, the commission was instructed to look at detention and demurrage charges potentially wrongly levied on US companies.
The commission has initiated investigations into that involving more than dozen companies, as well as formal investigations into Ocean Network Express and Wan Hai Lines.
The FMC has also heard formal complaints filed by shipping companies against liner giants, to the chagrin of the industry.
Ocean Network Express has argued it is being set up as “the first in a row of dominoes” and that it is unfairly being investigated over a misunderstanding with a freight forwarder.
Mediterranean Shipping Co called the proceedings brought against it by Pennsylvania furniture manufacturer MCS Industries baseless and the result of “errors and communication issues”.
Congress is also considering a law that would give the FMC may greater enforcement powers, including the ability to initiate investigations without complaints from the public.
That law has been condemned by the World Shipping Council repeatedly, with the industry group arguing legislators are succumbing to the desire to simply do something in response to US port congestion.