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President Biden signed the Ocean Shipping Reform Act (OSRA) 2022 into law on Thursday, June 16th. It is the first major overhaul of the act in two decades and had tremendous support in both the US Senate, who approved unanimously, and the House, who passed on a 369-42 vote.

OSRA prohibits ocean carriers from “unreasonably” refusing export cargo as well as assessing “unreasonable” demurrage and detention (D&D) fees. What is “unreasonable” D&D? It is fees that are assessed in circumstances that are beyond the control of the cargo owner.

OSRA puts teeth behind the Federal Maritime Commission’s (FMC) interpretive rule on D&D which was established in May of 2020 and empowers the FMC to be the watchdog and enforcement arm of OSRA.

Since the FMC had a rule in place covering the assessment of D&D, OSRA grants its immediate enforcement. Therefore, should an ocean carrier not abide by the interpretative rule, a complaint can be filed with the FMC and, should the ocean carrier be found in violation, penalties and reimbursements will be imposed.

Additionally, demurrage and detention invoices much include specific information and provide assurances the charges were not the result of the carrier’s action…rolled bookings, change to receiving dates, no empty return locations, etc.

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