The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) recently released this new Video that covers the charge complaints process now in effect under the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 (OSRA). The charge complaints process is a priority of OSRA that requires the FMC to create a new process for parties billed by ocean common carriers to submit a complaint if the charges are not compliant with the shipping act. The FMC is then required to investigate these claims and may require the cancellation or refund of any charges they find to be non-compliant. This is most applicable to detention and demurrage, but a complaint may be submitted for any charge that is not compliant with 46 USC 41102 or 41104(a).
The new webinar expands on existing published guidance for the charge complaints process. It further clarifies some of the details of the process and discusses how it relates to other existing FMC processes that may have been used to dispute charges in the past and may still be used if a charge complaint is unsuccessful or not pursued. It reiterates that this process may only be used for charges from common carriers so detention or demurrage from a third-party terminal or Container Freight Station (CFS) will not be investigated. The FMC offers evidence that the complaint process is working and advised that in the first 6 months of this process, over $700,000 of fees were canceled or refunded and in most cases, the carriers did not contest the claims.
Certain requirements of OSRA took effect immediately while many other important requirements are still in the federal rulemaking process, this process can apply to any charges assessed after June 16th, 2022, when the bill was signed into law. For this reason, the FMC has implemented an interim process for charge complaints until they complete the federal rulemaking and public comment process, making available a public website that will be required under OSRA. The FMC covers in detail the procedures involved in filing a complaint under the interim process.
Importers, Exporters, and any other party who believes they have been charged non-compliant fees from an ocean carrier since June 16th of 2022 are encouraged to watch the new webinar linked above to learn more about this process. You may also find more details of OSRA including the bill’s full text, the links above, an FAQ, and further news and advisories related to the implementation on the FMC website.
The new charge complaints process is only one aspect of what OSRA will bring to the US ocean-shipping community. Changes in equipment interchange standards, labeling requirements, and technology advances have been implemented immediately under this new act, creating many cost-saving measures for US importers. With these changes in place, US importers should adjust their operations to ensure compliance with the Act’s various provisions and that their ocean shipping practices are current. It is highly recommended that US importers take full advantage of the guidance and information provided by FMC to ensure staying compliant with OSRA. With everything in place, OSRA will provide increased transparency between parties involved in ocean shipments, which should reduce costs and enhance customer relationships while providing the much-needed accountability of all participants along the supply chain funnel. Ultimately, it is safe to say that with OSRA now fully enacted in the US, no matter your role as an industry member – freight forwarder/carrier/importer - you will benefit from the new Ocean Shipping Reform Act 2022. In short: What does OSRA mean for US importers? A new era of transparency plus potential cost savings and enhanced industry relationships.
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