The Federal Maritime Commission has published a video of potential value for importers. The FMC’s multimedia presentation provides instruction on options to bring complaints at the commission, ranging from reporting information that may trigger an investigation to initiating formal civil litigation that can provide wronged parties damages and restitution.

“This new guidance from the Federal Maritime Commission is helpful, given the multitude of issues companies have been facing while trying to import their products into the U.S.,” says PPAI Public Affairs Manager Maurice Norris. “The FMC is also the agency that will be charged with enforcing the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, which governs a variety of areas that would be addressed by the complaint process outlined here, for example the exorbitant detention and demurrage costs levied by ocean carriers. The FMC is empowering companies in our industry to seek relief for possible misdeeds, and this video could be a tremendous asset when it’s needed.”

Background: Commissioner Rebecca F. Dye recommended the creation of the instructional video explaining the different complaints processes and their respective merits in July 2021. It stemmed from her work leading the Fact Finding No. 29, International Ocean Transportation Supply Chain Engagement, process in order to identify operational solutions to cargo delivery system challenges related to COVID-19. During her investigation, she found that some members of the trade community were confused about how to approach the FMC to report suspected wrongdoing or to seek formal relief.

The video complements an advisory Commissioner Dye issued in February outlining ways in which parties can pursue demurrage and detention complaints.

Complaint Procedures: The FMC’s video educates viewers on how to determine which process is most beneficial to achieving a complainant’s desired outcome. It’s broken out into three segments:

  • How to report a potential violation of the law to commission investigative staff for possible enforcement action
  • How to work with the commission’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution Services (CADRS) to achieve speedy commercial solutions
  • How to file small claims or formal civil complaints heard by the commission’s Administrative Law Judge.

Each segment provides instructions on how to initiate a process, information the FMC will require to move forward and an explanation of how each process will progress, including potential outcomes.

For viewers looking to jump to a particular section of the video, information on reporting a violation begins at 3:50, instructions on how to work with CADRS begins at 8:30, and an explanation of the civil litigation process begins at 13:21.

In Their Words:

“One of my recommendations to the commission arising from Fact Finding 29 was to provide more information to the public about our programs and avenues of redress for stakeholder problems available here at the commission.” Dyer says. “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.”