By Mark Edward Nero
On March 6, the Federal Maritime Commission voted unanimously to amend its rules involving service contracts and non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC) service arrangements in an effort to ease regulatory burdens and make the agency’s rules more consistent with how the ocean shipping business is practiced.
The approved rulemaking makes the following changes to Commission regulations:
• It allows the filing of sequential service contract amendments with the Maritime Commission within 30 days of the effective date of an agreement between shipper and carrier.
• It allows up to 30 days for filing NVOCC service arrangement agreements with the Maritime Commission after their effective date.
• It allows additional time to correct technical data transmission errors from 48 hours to 30 days; and,
• It extends the period in which one can file a service contract correction request from 45 days to 180 days.
This is the first substantive revision to NVOCC service arrangements since being introduced in 2005, according to the FMC.
“The Commission examined regulatory requirements for service contracts and NVOCC Service Arrangements in light of current commercial practice and has eliminated a number of burdensome regulatory requirements that served as obstacles to efficient ocean transportation arrangements, added unnecessary transactional costs, and served no regulatory purpose,” Acting FMC Chairman Michael Khouri said.
“This regulatory adjustment will help expedite commerce through streamlining the contractual relationship between carriers, NVOCCs, and shippers,” added Commissioner William Doyle.
The Commission first initiated action in the matter in February 2016 with the publication of an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) was issued in August 2016.