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Formal Complaints

Filing a Formal Complaint:

A Formal Docket Complaint (formal complaint) may be filed with the Commission under Section 11 of the Shipping Act of 1984.

A formal complaint must:

  1. Allege violations of specific sections of the Shipping Act.
  2. Be verified (sworn).
  3. Be filed within three years of the violation, if seeking reparation.
  4. Include the name and address of each complainant, the name and address of each complainant's attorney or agent, the name and address of each person against whom the complaint is made, a concise statement of the cause of action and a request for relief or other affirmative action sought.
  5. Designate the place at which a hearing is desired.
  6. State whether informal dispute resolution was used prior to the filing of the complaint.
  7. Include an original and 15 copies.
  8. Be accompanied by a $221 filing fee.

The official filing rules can be found here (46 CFR 502)

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 response with the Commission and serve it on the complainant.  If the respondent files a motion to dismiss that is denied, the response must be filed within 10 days from the date of service of the Commission's order.  The respondent may also file a counter-complaint at this time, following the rules of a formal complaint.

Please contact the Office of the Secretary for a more detailed information packet on filing a formal complaint.