U.S. Maritime Commission issues interim report on demurrage practices

The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission’s Rebecca Dye submitted her interim report on port demurrage, detention, and free time practices of ocean carriers and container terminals in the United States.

Commissioner Dye’s report indicates that bringing clarity, access, and efficiency to the delivery of cargo from carrier to shipper will be key to improving the process for how and when marine terminal demurrage and ocean carrier detention charges are levied.

This is among key initial observations made by Commissioner Dye’s report submitted to the Federal Maritime Commission las week during a closed meeting. Commissioner Dye serves as the Investigative Officer for Fact Finding 28, which was initiated in March of this year.

Over the past six months, Commissioner Dye has conducted scores of interviews with executives, managers, government officials, and policy experts with experience in, or specialized knowledge of, international ocean shipping and port operations. She also solicited submissions from shippers, consignees, and drayage providers.

Commissioner Dye advised the Commission that she has identified six areas to be developed:

• Transparent, standardized language for demurrage, detention, and free time practices;
• Clarity, simplification, and accessibility regarding demurrage and detention billing practices and dispute resolution processes;
• Explicit guidance regarding types of evidence relevant to resolving demurrage and detention disputes;
• Consistent notice to shippers of container availability;
• An optional billing model wherein
• MTOs bill shippers directly for demurrage; and
• VOCCs bill shippers for detention; and
• An FMC Shipper Advisory or Innovation Team.

“While Fact Finding 28 is an investigation, it also represents a unique opportunity for industry leaders to have their voices heard and their experiences recognized on an important policy and operational issue. I am grateful for the valuable contributions so many different parties from every sector of the industry made to this investigation. I look forward to continuing conversations with all industry leaders as we work to further develop the record and the above ideas.”

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