The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is tightening the screws on carriers following the initiation of a new audit programme and dedicated audit team to assess carrier compliance with the Agency’s rule on detention and demurrage.
The programme is also expected to provide additional information beneficial to the regular monitoring of the marketplace for ocean cargo services, according to a statement released yesterday.
The “Vessel-Operating Common Carrier Audit Program” was established on Monday and launched immediately.
It will analyse the top nine carriers by market share for compliance with the Commission’s rule relating to detention and demurrage practices in the United States - and will work with companies to address their application of the rule and clarify any questions or ambiguities. Information supplied by carriers may be used to establish industry best practices, according to the statement.
Other focus areas of the audit process may include practices of companies related to billing, appeals procedures, penalties assessed by the lines, and any other restrictive practices.
“The Federal Maritime Commission is committed to making certain the law is followed and that shippers do not suffer from unfair disadvantages. The work of the audit team will enable the Commission to monitor trends in demurrage and detention practices and revenue, as well as to establish ongoing dialogue between staff and carriers on challenges facing the supply chain. Of course, if the audit team uncovers prohibited activities, the Commission will take appropriate action. Furthermore, the information gathered by the audit process might lead to changes in FMC regulations and industry guidance if warranted,” said chairman Daniel B Maffei.
The process will begin with an information request to establish a database of quarterly reports, allowing the Commission to assess how detention and demurrage is administered. Responses will be followed by individual interviews with the carriers. Each of the nine largest carriers by market share will be audited, irrespective of whether a formal or informal complaint has been filed at the Commission.