Hanjin Shipping mess: FMC eyes MTO fees for releasing cargo

SEPTEMBER 23, 2016 — The status of Hanjin Shipping and the disruptions caused by its bankruptcy to the American shipping community, as well as global supply chains, was examined closely by the Federal Maritime Commission during the closed session of the September 20, 2016 public meeting.

Hanjin Shipping's insolvency has "unquestionably had an impact on the shipping public as we approach the height of peak season," said Federal Maritime Commission Chairman Mario Cordero, in a statement issued after Commissioners got a briefing at a closed session after its September 20 public session.

Commissioners were briefed by staff from the Office of the General Counsel; the Bureau of Trade Analysis; the Bureau of Enforcement; and the Office of Consumer Affairs & Dispute Resolution Services about a variety of developments related to the insolvency of Hanjin Shipping. Topics addressed included: proceedings in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey and rulings made by the judge in this case; a briefing on the overall situation shippers are facing; complaints received by the Commission over the past two weeks, including Congressional inquiries; the availability of intermodal equipment, including chassis; and outreach efforts by the Commission to shippers and Ocean Transportation Intermediaries impacted by Hanjin Shipping's change in its operating status.

"The Commission has been diligent in engaging its constituencies, staying informed regarding developments related to this bankruptcy, and being vigilant in guarding against any potential violations of the Shipping Act," said Commissioner Cordero.

While the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey has primary jurisdiction in this matter domestically, the Federal Maritime Commission has the responsibility to investigate any potential violations of the Shipping Act, which governs the business practices of marine terminal operators.

The FMC says that over the past two weeks, it has received numerous inquiries related to fees being charged by marine terminal operators (MTOs) to beneficial cargo owners to secure the release of their shipments. It says it understands the concerns the shipping public has regarding the appropriateness and amounts of these fees and that any allegations of unreasonable practices or violations of the Shipping Act by MTOs will be examined carefully.

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