Filing a Shipping Complaint - Federal Maritime Commission - Federal Maritime Commission
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Filing a Shipping Complaint

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

Alternative Dispute Resolution Services (ADR)
Alternative Dispute Resolution Services (ADR): ADR (mediation or settlement) is an alternative to court action, which may be less costly and time consuming and allow greater control over the outcome. The Commission encourages people experiencing shipping problems to contact a mediator before filing a complaint. If you have a dispute and are not sure where to begin, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution.

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 CFR 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
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
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
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)

Waiver of Certain Filing Requirements Due to COVID19

The Commission is temporarily waiving certain requirements related to paper filing of documents, ink signatures, and service by mail of complaints in 46 C.F.R. part 502. (Docket No. 20-07)

Related Links

Exploring Commission Processes: The differences between contacting CADRS, filing a complaint and reporting violations

Alternative Dispute Resolution Services

Cargo Shipment Assistance

Cruise Passenger Assistance