The Office of the General Counsel (OGC) provides legal services to the Commission and to the Commission staff. The Office’s key responsibilities include:
- Providing advice and recommendations to the Commission on legal and policy matters related to the Commission’s responsibilities
- Providing advice to the Chairman and Commissioners on legal matters concerning adjudicatory and investigative proceedings
- Preparing final decisions, orders and regulations for Commission approval and issuance
- In collaboration with other Commission program offices, drafting orders, notices of inquiry, rulemakings, policy statements, and other documents to be considered or issued by the Commission
- Reviewing staff recommendations for Commission action to ensure materials take into account the legal and policy precedents established by the Commission
- Representing the Commission in litigation before the courts, including appellate review of Commission orders and rulemakings, seeking injunctions and other forms of relief in the Federal district courts, and representing the Commission's interests before other Federal agencies
- Preparing orders and formal opinions regarding administrative matters and representing the Commission in administrative proceedings
- Representing the Commission's interests in matters before Congress, including commenting on proposed legislation, preparing testimony for Commission officials, proposing legislation, and responding to congressional requests for information or assistance
- Providing technical and policy assistance to other government agencies engaged in bilateral and multilateral international negotiations or discussions on shipping matters
- Providing legal opinions to the Commission, its staff, and the general public in appropriate instances
Legal Opinions from the General Counsel
Any person may request from the General Counsel a legal opinion on a discrete area of law not yet addressed by the Commission. Legal opinions usually result in a narrowly tailored response to a specific set of facts. A legal opinion from the General Counsel is not a judgment of the Commission, and does not bind the Commission in any subsequent case. The General Counsel will not issue legal opinions on matters pending before the Commission, a court, or other tribunal. A request for a legal opinion should be made in writing, and should contain a detailed narrative of the specific facts or circumstances about which an opinion is requested.
The OGC oversees the Commission's international affairs activities, including monitoring and investigating potentially restrictive foreign practices, and making recommendations for appropriate Commission action.
The OGC has the delegated authority to make determinations as to whether ocean common carriers are placed on the list of controlled carriers -- carriers owned or controlled by governments of foreign countries and therefore subject to specific regulatory oversight.