FMC to Implement 30-day Service Contract Amendment Rule

US maritime regulators are preparing to eliminate  a rule that will require ocean carriers to report amendments to service contracts before they go into effect, as the Journal of Commerce reports.

Proposed rulemaking now under consideration at the FMC would gut language requiring service contract amendments be filed with the commission before going into effect and, instead, allow amendments to go into effect immediately, so long as they are filed up to 30 days after the changes are made.

The following rulemaking is done as part of a broader attempt to save shippers, carriers, and NVOCCs money and hassle by simplifying the filing process. The proposal  got full support from  carriers. Carriers claim that, on top of millions of dollars in costs, the existing filing requirement prohibits shippers and carriers from applying agreed-upon terms immediately and thus do business without disrupting or delaying that business.

The World Shipping Council, which represents roughly 90 percent of global container capacity, proposed the 30-day rule. The group recommends that the FMC requirements be amended to permit contract parties to implement a service contract amendment immediately, provided that the amendment is entered into by the parties and filed within 30 days of: either the date agreement on the amendment is reached, or the date the carrier receives the cargo to which the amendment applies. Carriers have promised the commission would still receive all service contract amendments, however, not prior to implementation.

While the 30-day rule was met with strong support among shippers who submitted public comments to the commission, those same voices encouraged caution when it came to deregulation in other areas.

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