The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) of the United States dismisses the charge complaint against container line Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) and discontinues the OSC proceeding.

The FMC in Washington investigated the compliance with 41104(a) and 41102 of demurrage or detention charges as it received a complaint from SOFi Paper Products.

MSC assessed a congestion surcharge in the amount of $1,000 to SOFi with respect to a bill of lading dated July 14, 2022. MSC claimed to have assessed the surcharge in accordance with its published tariff rule. As a billed party, SOFi requested justification for the charge, which MSC had not provided as of the time of the issuance of the Order to Show Cause (OSC).

In a conclusion the Federal Maritime Commission has ruled that SOFi’s Charge Complaint against MSC is dismissed and the charge complaint and Order to Show Cause proceeding against MSC is discontinued.

In another part of the ruling the FMC said “In charge complaint proceedings, the Commission determines whether there is a violation with respect to specific charges assessed or paid, rather than with respect to a common carrier’s entire practice. Here, the Commission finds that the record is insufficient to establish that a violation of section 41102(c) occurred in this charge complaint proceeding.”

Commissioner Louis E. Sola, concurring: “Although I concur with this ruling, it is imperative to consider the multifaceted concerns regarding auxiliary charges across various industries. The growing frequency of auxiliary charges is an issue we must be prepared to address and set forth frameworks to ensure these fees serve the best interests of the shipping industry.”

However, in the ruling another Commissioner of the FMC Max M. Vekich noted that “The salient issue in this case is whether the tariff rule implemented and assessed by MSC was clear and definite. The record supports a finding that it is not.”