According to Alphaliner, the US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) announced a new, streamlined procedure for shippers who wish to file complaints against shipping lines for unfair charges.
This announcement is received as a result of the numerous complaints that shippers or exporters had presented in the United States due to the collections in detention and delays of the containers of the maritime lines that in past news involved Hapag-Lloyd. The ruling, favorable to the shipper, resulted in a large fine to the shipping line for excessive charges during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a notice published last week enacting the provisions of the new Shipping Reform Act, the new guidance will allow shippers to open a dispute by sending a single email to the FMC detailing the alleged violations along with supporting documents.
If enough information is received, the FMC will launch an investigation. Shipper representatives claimed that the guidance would give the FMC enforcement strength, similar to that of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). An FMC investigation could result in possible civil penalties for carriers and an order for reimbursement of the charges.
The FMC notice follows the enactment of the Shipping Reform Act on June 16, the first update to US shipping law since 1998. Shippers must show that the alleged violation took place after of June 16 and that contravenes the new Law.
Taking this announcement into account, exporters and NVOCCs will now have a little more negotiating capacity against shipping lines in the United States. However, the possible sanctions that this would entail are not yet known, but it is stipulated that they be compensation or monetary fines.