Shippers have a new tool to combat high freight costs that could represent an easier way to put money back in their pockets.

Under authority provided under the new Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022, the Federal Maritime Commission is now accepting complaints disputing charges assessed by common carriers – including demurrage and detention fees – that may not comply with the provisions of that law.

Shippers can file such complaints by:

- identifying the carrier;

- identifying the specific alleged violations of 46 USC 41102 and/or 41104(a);

- gathering and submitting supporting documentation (e.g., invoices, bill of lading numbers, and evidence of whether the charges have been paid);

- confirming that the disputed charges were incurred on or after June 16 (the date OSRA 22 was enacted); and

- submitting all relevant materials in one email (if possible) to

The FMC states that when it receives sufficient information it will promptly initiate an investigation, which could ultimately result in a civil penalty and order for a refund of charges paid.

This process is separate from pursuing a legal case against violative charges, which shippers can still do by filing a formal or informal complaint with the FMC. A legal case can also result in reparations, including freight costs, unreasonable fees, and lost business and profits. Shippers can also still seek alternative dispute resolution services through the FMC or through a pre-complaint settlement with the carrier.

ST&R’s team of former FMC and DOJ litigation personnel, freight forwarders, and former administration and congressional staffers can help shippers take advantage of these tools. For more information on the feasibility of filing a complaint, or any of ST&R’s other FMC-related services, please contact Jason Kenner (at (212) 549-0137 or via email), Andy Margolis (at (305) 894-1021 or via email), or Ned Steiner (at (202) 730-4970 or via email.)

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