FMC mandates new criteria for carriers’ refunds

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A new regulation that requires ocean carriers to reimburse importers and exporters for unlawful overcharges and possibly for other US Shipping Act infractions will come into force in April. 

The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is scheduled to issue a final regulation containing modifications to the FMC’s Rules of Practice and Procedure on 20 March.  

These adjustments incorporate provisions from the Ocean Shipping Reform Act (OSRA) of 2022 and are related to the assessment and collection of civil penalties.  

According to the FMC’s rule, anyone who violated the Shipping Act or a regulation or order issued by the FMC under that law prior to OSRA 2022 was liable for a civil penalty. 

OSRA 2022 changed the wording in the Shipping Act governing potential liability of a violator to: “The commission may now order that a person is liable for ‘a civil penalty or, in addition to or in lieu of a civil penalty, is liable for the refund of a charge’ for any violation of the Shipping Act, commission regulations, or commission order.” 

READ: FMC orders MSC to justify congestion charges 

Refunds to customers are also covered under a new rule introduced by OSRA 2022 in section 4130. 

The provision deals with charge complaints, such as charging excessively for demurrage and detention. 

“That provision specifies, among other things, that upon a finding by the commission that a carrier’s charges do not comply with the Shipping Act, the commission shall promptly order the refund of those charges paid,” the rule states. 

This announcement has come not a week after the FMC levied a fine against Wan Hai Lines of $950,000

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