Statement by Commissioners Sola and Bentzel on Demurrage and Detention Relief by Ocean Carriers and Marine Terminal Operators due to the Expeditors Cybersecurity Incident
We understand that the supply chain is competitive, interdependent, and complex. In our everchanging world, the shipping industry is constantly working through major operational and cargo volume challenges to make itself more efficient all the while maintaining the integrity, security, and fluidity of the supply chain.
On February 20, 2022, Expeditors Inc, a large integrated logistic corporation determined that it had been the subject of a malicious and targeted cyber-attack, causing the company to shut down most of the operating systems globally to manage the safety of the overall system. On March 8, 2022, the FMC voted unanimously to grant a petition to exempt Expeditors from certain tariff publication requirements to allow the company to work its way out of the impacts of this malicious cyber-attack. These disruptions have contributed to container delivery delays adding additional obstacles to the efficient movement of cargo in the national supply chain, and exposed Expeditor’s clients to potential demurrage and detention fees for events that they were not able to control.
While every potential demurrage and detention fee should be assessed based on the facts surrounding the transaction, and in accordance with the FMC’s Interpretive Rule on Demurrage and Detention under the Shipping Act, we believe that given the malicious nature of the attack that caused the transportation events delaying pick-up of cargo, that care should be given in the assessment of fees that resulted from this cyber-attack. Accordingly, we would urge ocean carriers and marine terminal operators to exercise restraint in the assessment of demurrage and detention fees given the nature of the actions causing the commercial operational challenges.
Carl W. Bentzel and Louis E. Sola are Commissioners with the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission. The thoughts and comments expressed here are their own and do not necessarily represent the position of the Commission.