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 What is a maritime lien – Basics?
 
A maritime lien is a claim against a boat for non payment of goods or services supplied to a boat.  The lien arises the moment the work is completed or the goods are supplied.  A lien becomes delinquent when the request for payment is delayed or denied.  A supplier or service provider has options:

The Supplier or contractor can post a claim of lien on the www.marineliens.com web site and use the posted claim as a gentle persuasion and continue to pursue the collection.  If that fails he may leave the claim posted on the www.marineliens.com web site and wait until the vessel is sold or financed in which case the search would show the claim and the claimant will be paid.

The Supplier or contractor can post a claim of lien on the www.marineliens.com web site and have his attorney send a letter to the boat’s representative along with a copy of the posted claim. This method often works well.

The Supplier or contractor can post a claim of lien on the www.marineliens.com web site, and have his attorney proceed with the legal process of arrest of the boat.

What is a maritime lien – Detailed?
  • A lien is a charge against property for payment of debt. Maritime liens can arise under general maritime law (arising from collision or personal injury) and by statute (ship mortgages). Ordinarily, local law where arrest of a vessel or personal property occurs,  governs the validity of the lien and its priority with respect to other liens. A maritime lien has characteristics that distinguish it from other liens:
  • A maritime lien is a claim laid against maritime property, most often a vessel, but may also be brought against other personal property involved in maritime transactions such as cargo.
  • A maritime lien arises from services rendered to or injuries caused by maritime property.
  • Generally a maritime lien attaches to the property and is valid whether or not recorded. It travels with the vessel or personal property from port to port and owner to owner until it is extinguished or discharged.
  • Unlike land liens, most recent maritime liens may have first priority, subject to statutes such as those establishing mortgages.
  • A maritime lien is enforced by an action against the property itself, by arrest. That suit must be brought in a court having jurisdiction over the place where the property is located at the time of enforcement. A maritime lien is not a possessory lien such as a mechanic’s lien.
  • A maritime lien is extinguished by destruction of the vessel or property, or laches (undue delay in enforcement), or is discharged by payment or judicial act.
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