Legal Definition and Related Resources of Maritime Lien
Meaning of Maritime Lien
The appropriation of a vessel as security for a debt or claim the appropriation being made by law which creates a remedy for claim against the vessel herself and vests in the creditor a special property in the vessel which subsists from the moment the debt arises and follows the vessel into the hands of an innocent purchaser . At common law , such a lien arose only by implication of law where the creditor relied on the credit of the vessel itself and not on that of the owner . The master of a vessel, at common law, has the authority to bind the vessel and obtain credit for necessary repairs and supplies to the vessel outside of the home port. Said to be a secret lien, operating to the prejudice of prior encumbrancers or purchasers without notice and therefore is to be construed strictly. See Piedmont and G. C. Coat Co. v Seaboard Fisheries Co., 254 U.S. 1, 41 S. Ct. 1, 65 L. Ed. 97. The source of maritime lien is a ship’s need and arises only if the repairs or supplies are necessary, if the pledge of a credit is necessary to the obtaining of same, if they were actually obtained and if they were furnished upon her credit. See Piedmont & G. C. Coal Co. v Seaboard Fisheries Co. ( supra ).
Maritime Lien Alternative Definition
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Maritime Lien in Historical Law
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Maritime Lien in Maritime Law
Note: There is more information on maritime/admiralty law here.
The following is a definition of Maritime Lien , produced by Tetley, in the context of admiralty law: [Translation of Maritime Lien in French: “privilège maritime”] [Translation of Maritime Lien in Spanish: “privilegio marítimo”] [Translation of Maritime Lien in Italian: “privilegio speciale marittimo”] [Translation of Maritime Lien in German: “Seerechtliches Pfandrecht; Schiffsgläubigerrecht”] – A secured claim against a ship (and sometimes against cargo or bunkers) in respect of services provided to the vessel or damages done by it. A maritime lien is a substantive right in the property of another, derived from the general maritime law (see this maritime law term in this legal dictionary) and rooted in the civil law concept of a “privilège”. It arises without notice, registration or other formalities, at the time the services are rendered or the damages are done. Unlike a common law possessory lien (see this maritime law term in this legal dictionary), it does not depend for its existence on the possession of the res by the creditor. It travels with the ship, so as to encumber the title of subsequent owners or possessors and survives the conventional sale of the vessel. It remains inchoate from the moment it attaches, until it is enforced by an action in rem, when it relates back to the time it first attached. In the U.K. and British Commonwealth countries, it ranks after special legislative rights (see this maritime law term in this legal dictionary), the costs of arrest and sale and custodia legis expenses (see this maritime law term in this legal dictionary) and before ship mortgages (see this maritime law term in this legal dictionary) and statutory rights in rem (see this maritime law term in this legal dictionary).
In the U.K. and Commonwealth, maritime liens are restricted to seamen’s and master’s wages, master’s disbursements (see this maritime law term in this legal dictionary), salvage (see this maritime law term in this legal dictionary), damage, bottomry (see this maritime law term in this legal dictionary) and respondentia (see this maritime law term in this legal dictionary) (the last two being obsolete). In the U.S. and civilian jurisdictions, maritime liens are more numerous, including, notably, contract maritime liens for the supply of necessaries (see this maritime law term in this legal dictionary) and liens for general average contributions (see this maritime law term in this legal dictionary) (which in Anglo/Commonwealth law are secured only by statutory rights in rem (see this maritime law term in this legal dictionary). American law also distinguishes between “preferred maritime liens” (see this maritime law term in this legal dictionary) and other maritime liens. American and civilian ranking of maritime liens also differs from that applied in the U.K. and Commonwealth. See Tetley, M.L.C., 2 Ed., 1998 at pp. 56-60 (generally) and re ranking at pp. 872-876 (U.S.), 884-890 (U.K.), 892-897 (Canada) and 903-905 (France); Tetley, Int’l. M. & A. L., 2003 at pp. 469-514 (generally) and re ranking at pp. 498-505.
Maritime liens are expunged by the extinction of the debt (e.g. by payment), by the loss or destruction of the res, by prescription, laches (see this maritime law term in this legal dictionary), waiver or judicial sale.