The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission has given Mediterranean Shipping Company until the end of the month to explain a $1,000 congestion surcharge levied against a shipper.
The deadline follows a complaint filed by SOFi Paper Products.
The Ocean Shipping Reform Act 2022, which President Biden signed into law in June, gives the FMC greater oversight and enforcement power over foreign-flagged carriers business practices. One of those powers relates to receiving and streamlining to the process of handling charge complaints.
So far the law’s charge complaint process provision has proved successful. Since the law’s enactment in June, the FMC reports receiving more than 200 filings including 70 that have med the threshold for referral to investigators. Commission staff estimates that more than $700,000 in charges have been refunded by carriers since June.
According to the FMC, Switzerland-based MSC must provide justification for its $1,000 congestion surcharge on a SOFi shipment invoiced last July. To date, MSC has not provided justification for the charge on the basis of congestion at U.S. ports.
The FMC also requested MSC explain why it should not have to promptly refund of charges paid by SOFi or be imposed a civil penalty for the violations.