46 CFR 502.503 - Procedures for considering petitions.
(a) Filing and service of documents.
(1) Any petition for an award or other pleading or document related to a petition shall be filed and served on all parties to the proceeding in the same manner as other pleadings in the proceeding, except as provided in § 502.502(b)(2) (confidential financial information).
(2) The petition and all other pleadings or documents related to the petition will be referred to an Administrative Law Judge to initially decide the matter as adjudicative officer.
(b) Reply to petition.
(1) Within 30 days after service of a petition, counsel representing the agency against which an award is sought may file a reply to the petition. Unless counsel requests an extension of time for filing or files a statement of intent to negotiate under paragraph (b)(2) of this section, failure to file a reply within the 30-day period may be treated as a consent to the award requested.
(2) If agency counsel and the applicant believe that the issues in the fee application can be settled, they may jointly file a statement of their intent to negotiate a settlement. The filing of this statement shall extend the time for filing a reply for an additional 30 days, and further extension may be granted by the adjudicative officer upon request by agency counsel and the applicant.
(3) The reply shall explain in detail any objections to the award requested and identify the facts relied on in support of counsel's position. If the reply is based on any alleged facts not already in the record of the proceeding, agency counsel shall include with the reply either supporting affidavits or a request for further proceedings under paragraph (f) of this section.
(c) Response to reply. Within 15 days after service of a reply, the applicant may file a response. If the response is based on any alleged facts not already in the record of the proceeding, the applicant shall include with the response either supporting affidavits or a request for further proceedings under paragraph (f) of this section.
(d) Comments by other parties. Any party to a proceeding other than the applicant and agency counsel may file comments on an application within 30 days after it is served, or on a reply, within 15 days after it is served. A commenting party may not participate further in proceedings on the application unless the adjudicative officer determines that the public interest requires such participation in order to permit full exploration of matters raised in the comments.
(e) Settlement. The applicant and agency counsel may agree on a proposed settlement of the award before final action on the application, either in connection with a settlement of the underlying proceeding, or after the underlying proceeding has been concluded in accordance with the rules of this subpart pertaining to settlement. If a prevailing party and agency counsel agree on a proposed settlement of an award before a petition is filed, the petition shall be filed with the proposed settlement.
(f) Further proceedings.
(1) Ordinarily, the determination of an award will be made on the basis of the written record. However, on request of either the applicant or agency counsel, or on his or her own initiative, the adjudicative officer may order further proceedings, such as an informal conference, oral argument, additional written submissions or, as to issues other than substantial justification (such as the applicant's eligibility or substantiation of fees and expenses), pertinent discovery or an evidentiary hearing. Such further proceedings shall be held only when necessary for full and fair resolution of the issues arising from the application, and shall be conducted as promptly as possible. Whether or not the position of the agency was substantially justified shall be determined on the basis of the administrative record, as a whole, which is made in the adversary adjudication for which fees and other expenses are sought.
(2) A request that the adjudicative officer order further proceedings under this section shall specifically identify the information sought or the disputed issues and shall explain why the additional proceedings are necessary to resolve the issues.
(g) Decision. The adjudicative officer shall serve an initial decision on the application within 60 days after completion of proceedings on the application. The decision shall include written findings and conclusions on the applicant's eligibility and status as a prevailing party, and an explanation of the reasons for any difference between the amount requested and the amount awarded. The decision shall also include, if at issue, findings on whether the agency's position was substantially justified, whether the applicant unduly protracted the proceedings, or whether special circumstances make an award unjust. If the applicant has sought an award against more than one agency, the decision shall allocate responsibility for payment of any award made among the agencies, and shall explain the reason for the allocation made.
(h) Commission review. Either the applicant or agency counsel may seek review of the initial decision on the fee application, or the Commission may decide to review the decision on its own initiative, in accordance with § 502.227 of this part. If neither the applicant nor agency counsel seeks review and the Commission does not take review on its own initiative, the initial decision on the application shall become a final decision of the Commission 30 days after it is issued. Whether to review a decision is a matter within the discretion of the Commission. If review is taken, the Commission will issue a final decision on the application or remand the application to the adjudicative officer for further proceedings.
(j) Payment of award. (1)(i) An applicant seeking payment of an award shall submit to the comptroller or other disbursing officer of the paying agency a copy of the Commission's final decision granting the award, accompanied by a certification that the applicant will not seek review of the decision in the United States courts.
(ii) The agency will pay the amount awarded to the applicant within 60 days.
(2) Where the Federal Maritime Commission is the paying agency, the application for payment of award shall be submitted to: Office of Budget and Financial Management, Federal Maritime Commission, Washington, DC 20573. [Rule 503.]