The US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) have revised detention and demurrage (D&D) rules, introduce new requirements for billing, timeframes, and disputing charges, which come into effect from this week.  

The key components of the rule changes are:

  • D&D invoices can only be issued to either the consignee or the person for whose account this was provided. 
  • D&D invoices must be issued within 30 days of the charges being incurred and NVOCCs must reissue invoices within 30 days of receiving an invoice.
  • Billed parties can make a fee mitigation, refund or waiver request within 30 days.
  • Identifiable information must be included on invoices, or the billed party has no obligation to pay.

According to the FMC, this revision will “advance the commission’s goal of promoting supply chain fluidity by ensuring a clear connection between the failure to pick up cargo or return equipment in a timely manner and the appropriate fee – The new rule will provide relief to parties that should never have received a bill for detention or demurrage”.

The FMC is  an independent federal agency that is responsible for overseeing and regulating ocean freight moving in and out of the US. The new rules follow several high profile disputes between carriers and importers during the post-pandemic congestion.

In our view, these new rules seem to focus on the way D&D is invoiced, rather than the bigger issue of the often exorbitant fees and fixing reasonable tariffs. At first sight, this seems to be an opportunity missed.

If you have any questions regarding the above, then Westbound are here to help. So, please do not hesitate to contact us.