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FMC Considers Amending Rules on Agreements, Service Contracts, User Fees

Monday, February 22, 2016
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Federal Maritime Commission voted Feb. 18 to issue three advance notices of proposed rulemaking to gather public comment on possible amendments to its rules concerning ocean common carrier and marine terminal agreements, service contracts, non-vessel-operating common carrier service arrangements and fees for Commission services.

Carrier/Terminal Operator Agreements. The FMC is considering a clarification to the definition of capacity rationalization and application of the low-market share exemption from the 45-day waiting period for filed agreements and amendments. Other areas of interest include the value and burden of requiring terminal services agreements to be confidentially provided to the FMC, “complete and definite” agreements, revision of the information form and monitoring report requirements, and information disclosure in the agreement review process.

The FMC also announced that it is in the process of developing a system to allow electronic filing of agreements.

Service Contracts and NSAs. The FMC is considering allowing 30 days after the effective date for filing of any service contract amendment. This ANPR will also focus on leveraging technology to relieve burden, including use of web services and automated NVOCC status updates for service contract filers.

User Fees. The FMC will seek comments on a new calculation methodology that would aim to align fees with program costs.

Coble Act Amendments. The FMCwill issue a final rule to implement statutory amendments that limit commissioners’ terms and permit attorney fees to be awarded to the prevailing party in any complaint proceeding brought under the Shipping Act. The FMC will rely on relevant federal case law in determining whether a party has prevailed in a proceeding and, when deciding attorney fee petitions, will consider whether an award is consistent with the purposes of the Shipping Act. The Commission is not adopting any specific factors for determining entitlement at this time but may identify such factors in individual cases going forward.

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