Attorneys & Litigants
Attorneys and parties or individuals involved in cases at the Federal Maritime Commission can find information and resources below.
Not represented by an attorney?
The information below can also assist litigants who are representing themselves in understanding the Commission’s procedures. However, the FMC cannot provide legal advice.
Regulations and Statutes
The following FMC Regulations and Statutes pertain to Commission cases:
- The Shipping Act of 1984 (46 USC §§ 40101-41309) governs international shipments of goods by water
- The Commission hears cases that arise from alleged violations of the Shipping Act under 46 USC Chapter 411
- The FMC’s rules of practice and procedure (46 CFR § 502) lay out the requirements for filing complaints and the procedures used in cases heard by the Administrative Law Judges, the Commission, or Settlement Officers
Proceedings before the Commission are commenced by the filing of a complaint, or by order of the Commission upon petition, or upon its own motion. Types of docketed proceedings include:
- Formal proceedings: Any person may file a formal complaint to allege violations of specific sections of the Shipping Act found at 46 USC Chapter 411.
- 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.
- Small claims proceedings: For claims of $50,000 or less, an informal complaint may be filed. The complaint will be handled by a settlement officer for resolution using informal procedures (46 CFR Part 205 Subpart S).
- Investigative proceedings: The Commission may investigate the activities of ocean common carriers, ocean transportation intermediaries (OTIs), shippers, marine terminal operators and other persons to ensure effective compliance with the statutes and regulations administered by the Commission.
- Petitioning the Commission: Any person may file a petition asking for relief or other affirmative action by the Commission (46 CFR § 502.74-76). This could include an appeal from Commission staff action unrelated to any formal proceeding.
For assistance or questions about:
- The process for filing complaints or procedural questions during the pendency of a proceeding, contact the Office of the Secretary
- Searching for filed FMC legal pleadings of various types of cases such as, formal and informal dockets, petitions, rulemakings, and Commission investigations, check the Docket Activity Library
- Resolving problems related to ocean transportation activities including ongoing shipment through collaboration and settlement or alternative dispute resolution, please contact Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution Services
- Interpretation of the Commissions regulations and statutes or seeking a legal opinion, contact the General Counsel
The Law & Reference Library is open to the public. The librarian is available: 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM, Monday – Friday (Eastern) (Closed weekends and Federal Holidays).