FMC dismisses shipper complaint against HMM

Source: The Loadstar 
Date: 7th December 2023

The US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has found in HMM’s favour, following a complaint filed by a shipper in June.

However, shippers continue to pour in claims against their service providers, with US Auto Exporting seeking $52,000 in damages, claiming a wrongful cargo declaration led to a fine from CMA CGM.

Pronouncing in favour of HMM, the judge rejected MSRF’s claim that the South Korean carrier “refused to provide enough commitments in its advance service contracts”.

MSRF had claimed HMM had followed a practice, allegedly carried out by other major carriers throughout the pandemic, forcing out SME shippers’ contracted volumes, leaving them at the mercy of the spot market and its substantively higher pricing, to find space.

But the judge found that over the course of the contract, “HMM carried almost double the minimum quantity commitment of cargo”.

While the contract had some 14 amendments, the judge noted that “MSRF does not claim (and the evidence also does not support) any kind of collusion or undue pressure led it to agree to these”, adding that the shipper had “derived a substantial financial benefit” from the amendments.

The judge ordered MSRF’s complaint against HMM be denied and that the “claim be discontinued”.

The judge’s decision marks a first for the FMC, which has been inundated with complaints against carriers for alleged Covid-era actions, most concerning charges, but an increasing number over space allocation.

In the latest complaint from US Auto Exporting, the issue involves the alleged incorrect designation of a car model, leading carrier CMA CGM to impose a $2,000 penalty on the load. This penalty was subsequently passed on to the claimant, despite acknowledgment that the mistake had been made by warehouse operatives.

From there, says the claim, poor communication ramped up costs, with the container being returned to the US without having been flagged as a return, so Customs applied European import charges.

Thereafter, continues the complaint, delays in processing led to the imposition of demurrage charges by CMA CGM, which, after not being paid, ultimately led to the loss of cargo – four vehicles – totaling $31,800, and lost profit of some $12,000.

The case continues.

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