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The Federal Maritime Commission gives the following guidance for parties wishing to dispute charges assessed by common carriers that they believe may not comply with the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022, which became Public Law 117-146 on June 16, 2022.

Parties interested in filing such “Charge Complaints” at the Commission may do so by following the below steps:

  • Identifying the common carrier
  • Identifying the specific alleged violations of 46 U.S.C. §§ 41102 and/or 41104(a)
  • Gathering and submitting supporting documentation, as appropriate, including:
    • Invoices
    • Bill of Lading Numbers
    • Evidence of whether the charge(s) have been paid
  • Confirming that the disputed charge was incurred on or after the enactment of P.L. 117-146
  • Submitting all relevant materials in one email (if possible) to

When the Commission 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.

Investigations by the Commission are for law enforcement purposes and do not constitute representation as attorney for the complainant or a guarantee of refunds. If the filer chooses to pursue and control their own legal case, including with the assistance of their own attorney if desired, they may do so under 46 U.S.C. § 41301(a) and Part 502 of the Commission’s regulations.

To do so, filers must submit a formal or informal complaint. Persons may also seek alternative dispute resolution services by contacting the Office of Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution.

This guidance communicates the timely implementation of a self-executing provision of PL 117-146. The Commission reserves the right to amend processes related to “Charge Complaints” at any time.

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