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Filing a Shipping Complaint

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The FMC can assist in resolving complaints and disputes, finding solutions and awarding reparations related to ocean transportation activities:

Dispute Resolution Services
The Office of Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution Services (CADRS) is an impartial resource that assists the maritime industry and the shipping public resolve ocean shipping problems through an informal and voluntary process (i.e., ombuds services).

Filing a Small Claims Complaint
Filing a Small Claims Complaint: For claims of $50,000 or less, a small claim alleging Shipping Act violations may be filed. The complaint will be handled by a settlement officer for resolution using informal procedures (46 C.F.R. Part 502 Subpart S).

Filing a Formal Complaint
Filing a Formal Complaint: Any person may file a formal complaint to allege violations of specific sections of the Shipping Act. The complaint must be sworn and verified, and if seeking reparations, be filed within three years of the claimed violation. Formal complaints are generally heard by an Administrative Law Judge and are reviewed by the Commission.

Commission Policy Guidance

  • Statement on Representative Complaints [PDF, 45.4 KB]
    Any person may file a complaint alleging a violation, including shippers’ associations and trade groups or trade associations. (Docket No. 21- 13)
  • Statement on Attorney Fees [PDF, 63.5 KB]
    The Commission reiterates that a party who brings an unsuccessful complaint is not automatically required to pay the other party’s attorney fees. (Docket No. 21- 14)
  • Statement on Retaliation [PDF, 79.2 KB]
    The Commission clarifies that shippers and other industry participants must be able to raise claims with and provide information to the Commission without fear of retaliation. (Docket No. 21-15)