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FMC settles ONE and Wan Hai detention and demurrage cases

Photo: Unsplash View of US Capitol building
The US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has reached settlement agreements with Ocean Network Express (ONE) and Wan Hai Lines.

The FMC announced that agreements have been reached with two carriers, resolving allegations of misconduct concerning Detention and Demurrage. Under the agreements, ONE will be paying a civil penalty of $1.7m, and- in a different settlement, Wan Hai Lines will be paying $950,000 to resolve its case. These cases come in the wake of a 2022 agreement with Hapag Lloyd which came just prior to the entry into law of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, or OSRA 2022; Hapag-Lloyd paid $2 million in penalties, regarding incorrect assessment of detention charges.

The FMC Chair, Daniel B. Maffei, in describing the two latest settlements, said: “The agreements being announced today send a clear message to international shipping community that ocean carriers must fully comply with the US legal obligations. I commend our Bureau of Enforcement, Investigations, and Compliance for their efforts, which resulted in both meaningful civil penalties, and relief for impacted shippers.”

Discussing the ONE settlement, the FMC said: “The agreement incorporates a significant new compromise provision whereby ONE agreed that in addition to paying civil penalties, it will also furnish restitution to impacted shippers in the form of refunds and waivers.” In discussing the Wan Hai settlement, which dealt with 21 complaints on containers inbound to ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach,  the FMC said that the carrier had: “[failed] to observe and enforce just and reasonable practices regarding its charges related to empty container returns. In addition to payment of a civil penalty, Wan Hai refunded the impacted shippers all detention charges collected under the invoices at issue.”

Further details can be found by looking through the FMC’s dockets. At the end of 2021, in Docket 21-16, the FMC initiated an investigations into possible violations by Wan Hai of 46 U.S.C. § 41102(c), in the US Code, which deals with container returns.