FMC Allows Electronic Filing of Carrier and Marine Terminal Operator Agreements
The Federal Maritime Commission has issued a direct final rule providing the option of filing ocean common carrier and marine terminal operator agreements through a new electronic system. This rule will be effective as of June 13 unless significant adverse comment is received by May 27, in which case the rule will be withdrawn.
Currently, a true copy and seven additional copies of an executed carrier or MTO agreement must be submitted in paper format to the FMC during regular business hours. The agreement filing must be accompanied by a letter of transmittal and, where required, an original and five copies of the completed information form, also in paper format. The FMC states that allowing these agreements to be filed electronically instead would not only reduce the burden and expense of filing for the industry but would also streamline its internal business processes, thereby resulting in a more efficient regulatory process and expediting public access to agreement filings through the FMC’s web site.
Under the new electronic filing system, supporting documentation previously submitted in paper form may also be appended electronically as part of the filing process. Validity checks incorporated into the automated filing process will allow the filer to verify information regarding agreement parties, thereby ensuring a more accurate public online agreement library as well as facilitating FMC review and oversight of agreements. The FMC adds that as part of this change it is removing the requirement for agreement parties to provide original signatures and will begin accepting photocopies and scanned electronic copies of signatures.