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Formal Proceedings

Formal proceedings before the Commission generally can be divided into one of two types:

  1. complaints filed by private parties seeking redress and reparations against a party regulated by the Commission, such as a common carrier, ocean freight forwarder or marine terminal operator; and
  2. proceedings initiated by order of the Commission to investigate conduct or practices in our foreign waterborne commerce.

Attorneys of the Bureau of Enforcement serve as trial attorneys in formal proceedings instituted under section 11 of the Shipping Act, and in investigations instituted under the FSPA. In Commission-initiated proceedings, Bureau attorneys serve as the prosecuting attorneys with the responsibility of developing the evidence necessary for the Commission to reach an informed decision on the issues presented, and in seeking deterrence and civil penalties for violations of the Shipping Act. Bureau attorneys also may be designated investigative officers in nonadjudicatory fact-finding proceedings. On occasion, under the direction of the General Counsel, attorneys from the Bureau may participate in matters of court or other agency litigation to which the Commission is a party.

The Bureau monitors all other formal proceedings, including relevant court proceedings, in order to identify major regulatory issues. The Bureau may intervene in private complaint proceedings where the issues presented appear to have particular significance to the development of a competitive and efficient maritime industry. Parties to Commission-docketed proceedings who believe Bureau intervention is warranted should contact the Bureau’s Director, at 202-523-5783 or by e-mail at