NCBFAA Amicus Filing Takes Issue With FMC Penalty Imposition

Tom Mathers
Phone: (202) 466-0222
For Immediate Release

Washington, DCThe National Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders Association of America, Inc. (NCBFAA) has filed an Amicus Curie brief with the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) seeking mitigation of its recent $4 million fine imposed on Sea-Land for alleged tariff violations.
        In its filing, the NCBFAA first argued that the FMC’s current enforcement policies now fall primarily on the shoulders of ocean transportation intermediaries, since the carriers are largely de-regulated through their confidential service contracts. Since the FMC routinely imposes substantial fines and penalties in excess of $1 million - even against NVOCCs – for apparently mere technical violations, the NCBFAA determined it was now important to speak out on those issues.
        The NCBFAA pointed out that both Congress and the FMC had noted that the enactment of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 1998 (OSRA) represented a change in the regulation of ocean transportation. Instead of inflexible regulation, both Congress and the FMC repeatedly indicated that there should be primary reliance on market forces with enforcement action reserved for those situations where the misconduct distorts the market.
        The Association pointed out that the industry has changed from a common carriage to a contract carriage system obviating the need to strictly enforce tariffs on behalf of shippers, carriers or NVOCCs, and that the FMC should modify its enforcement policies in light of these facts.
        The NCBFAA supports restricting the FMC’s enforcement policies - and imposition of substantial penalties - to serious violations of the Act, where the challenged conduct clearly damages other parties and otherwise interferes with the vibrant market that exists for ocean transportation in the post -OSRA era.
        With headquarters in Washington, DC, the NCBFAA ( represents nearly 700 member companies - the nation's leading freight forwarders, customs brokers, ocean transportation intermediaries (OTIs) and air cargo agents. Established in 1897 in New York, NCBFAA is the strong, effective national voice of the industry. Through its various committees, counsel and representatives, the Association maintains a close watch over legislative and regulatory issues that affect its members. It keeps them informed of these and other related issues through its weekly Monday Morning eBriefingQuarterly NCBFAA Bulletin, and various meetings and conferences throughout the year.


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