What constitutes unreasonable terminal charges?

By: | Issue #660 | at 08:00 AM | Channel(s): Ports & Terminals  Terminals  

Federal Maritime Commission takes up issue

On September 20, the Federal Maritime Commission voted to hold hearings on a petition filed last December by the Coalition for Fair Port Practices, requesting that the FMC adopt a policy on what constitutes unjust and unreasonable demurrage, detention, and per diem charges under existing rules.

It’s been a controversy that has pitted shippers and truckers against ports, terminals, and ocean carriers for some time. Cargo owners and trucking companies are normally given a certain number of free days to pick up containers from ports, after which they can be charged demurrage. Detention and per diem fees can also be charged if containers and chassis are not returned within a specified time.

That issue came to a head last fall when the bankruptcy of South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping left cargo owners unable to pick up containers on time and later prevented them from returning containers and chassis. Two members of the National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA) filed complaints with the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) alleging they were illegally charged thousands of dollars by Maher Terminals, in the Port of New York and New Jersey, for containers stuck in the port. Delays have also occurred during the 2014-2015 labor slowdown at West Coast ports and Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast in 2012…

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Peter Buxbaum's avatar

American Journal of Transportation

More on Peter Buxbaum

Peter Buxbaum has been writing about international trade and transportation, as well as security, defense, technology, and foreign policy, for over 20 years. Besides contributing to the AJOT, Buxbaum's work has appeared in such leading publications as Fortune, Forbes, Chief Executive, Computerworld, and Jane's Defence Weekly. He was educated at Columbia University.