A complaint has been filed with the Federal Maritime Commission by CCMA, against Mediterranean Shipping Company, with the former alleging that the latter violated 46 U.S.C. 41102(c), regarding its practices and the billing and assessment of charges on the shipments of the Complainant’s container cargo, including demurrage, detention, and dwell charges.
CMA’s complaint resulted from MSC’s transportation of ten TEUs loaded with high-carbon ferrochrome in October 2021 from Durres, Albania to Seattle, Washington.
It specifically alleges that on November 1, CCMA was notified that the shipment was under review by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). On November 4, the company learned that CBP would require the containers to be moved to a customs examination station (CES).
The next day, the CES operator advised that it could not move the containers until sometime after expiration of the last free day – November 11 – allowed for pickup.
On November 9, CCMA was informed that only one designated container needed to be moved to the CES, with the CES operator refusing to move the container, due to its weight, and CBP refused to release the remaining containers until the exam was complete.
Over a month later, on December 14, the Customs exam was completed and the hold on the container was released. The following day, the hold on the remaining containers at the port was released.
On December 16, the container at the CES was picked up, and the other containers were picked up from the Port of Seattle over the next few days.
MSC assessed demurrage charges of $114,156, payment for which was required to pick up the containers. MSC also reportedly refused to extend the last free day or to waive or reduce demurrage charges.
FMC stated that the Shipping Act prohibits a common carrier or marine terminal operator from failing to “establish, observe, and enforce just and reasonable regulations and practices relating to or connected with receiving, handling, storing, or delivering property.”
Therefore, CCMA’s complaint alleges that MSC did not establish and observe just and reasonable practices, by assessing demurrage charges on containers that were unavailable for pick-up and that served no incentivising principle and did not promote freight fluidity.
An answer to the complaint is due to be filed with the Commission within twenty-five days after the date of service.