Filing a Formal Complaint

A formal complaint may be filed with the Commission to allege violations of the Shipping Act under 46 U.S.C. Chapter 411 and to seek reparations (damages).

Commission rules for filing complaints should be consulted prior to filing. Formal complaints are assigned to an Administrative Law Judge and adjudicated pursuant to the Commission’s Rules of Practice and Procedure at 46 CFR Part 502. Please review these rules before filing a formal complaint.

The Commission provides detailed instructions for drafting a formal complaint. Examples of complaints can be found by browsing the Docket Logs.

A formal complaint must:

  • Allege violations of specific sections of the Shipping Act, 46 U.S.C. Chapter 411
  • Be verified (sworn)
  • Be filed within three years of the violation, if seeking reparation
  • Include the name, address and email address of each complainant, the name, address and email address of each complainant's attorney or agent, the name and address of each person against whom the complaint is made
  • Include concise statement of the cause of action and a request for relief or other affirmative action sought
  • Designate the place at which a hearing is desired
  • Include an original and 5 copies
  • Be accompanied by a filing fee
  • Be filed with the Secretary of the Federal Maritime Commission by sending paper copies to:

Karen V. Gregory
Secretary
Federal Maritime Commission
800 N. Capitol St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20573

Responding to a Complaint
The respondent has 20 days from the date of service of the complaint (30 if the respondent resides in Alaska or outside the United States) to file a verified response with the Commission and serve it on the complainant. The respondent may also file a counter-complaint at this time, following the rules of a formal complaint.

The Commission provides a standard format for filing an answer to a complaint. All answers to complaints should follow this standard format. An Answer to a complaint must be verified (sworn).

Please contact the Office of the Secretary if you have questions concerning the process for filing complaints.

Contact Information

Office of the Secretary

Phone: 202-523-5725

Fax: 202-523-0014

E-mail: secretary@fmc.gov