FMC Ruling on Port Congestion Surcharges
Continuing with the ongoing LA/LB congestion and the concerns of the surcharges being assessed to containers, the FMC has ruled that carriers cannot properly assess any congestion or other surcharges on cargo that was in their possession or control at the time the implementation of the surcharges was in place. All companies should be aware of this FMC ruling and consult with their own counsel if necessary to determine what position to take at this time.
“Unless done pursuant to a waiver or exemption, any tariff rule (including surcharges) of a common carrier that results in an increased cost to a shipper may not be effective earlier than 30 days after publication. 46 U.S.C.§ 40501(e) and 46 CFR § 520.8. Many carriers previously published in their tariffs advance or conditional notice of an intention to implement surcharges in the event certain conditions are experienced. All such carrier tariff rules, however, must be clear and definite as to the implementation and termination of the surcharge based upon specific criteria related to “labor unrest.”‘
See the Federal Maritime Commission website for more information: