Maritime Arrest And Attachment

While the maritime arrest and attachment process is complex, boatyards and marinas attempting to collect a debt often have little other choice than to initiate these processes. It is for this reason you need on your side attorneys who understand the process and how to provide you with the strongest possible representation.

The attorneys at Brodsky Micklow Bull & Weiss LLP, have over 100 years of combined maritime commercial litigation experience and experience in serving as lawyers for boatyards, marinas, ship owners, and international marine insurers. We often handle such matters ex parte (An ex parte matter involves a decision by a court made without requiring all of the parties to be present) and on a surprise and emergency basis when a ship tries to sneak out of port with its debits unpaid. As we have represented parties on both sides of the maritime arrest and attachment process, we understand the strategy other parties will pursue in such actions. We also understand how to quickly take action to protect your financial interests.

What Are Vessel Arrests And Vessel Attachments?

Known as Rule C arrests under the Supplemental Rules for Certain Admiralty and Maritime Claims, vessel arrest occurs when the holder of a lien seizes a vessel in connection with the debt. Such vessel arrests generally occur at the behest of federal marshals.

A feature unique to maritime law is that it indulges the legal fiction that a vessel is a "person." Therefore, in addition to the liability of vessel owners, offending vessels may be held directly and personally liable for their debts (including ones arising from a failure to pay for maritime services) and their torts (including vessel trespasses). The mechanism available in admiralty for doing so is a vessel arrest. For example, if a marina provides berthing for a vessel and it is not paid for such services, or if a boatyard works on a boat and does not receive the agreed compensation, a maritime "necessaries" lien automatically arises against such vessel, and it becomes subject to arrest (seizure). Such maritime liens are said to be "indelible" - they attach to and subsist against the vessel until the liens are satisfied or until the vessel is sold pursuant to an order of a federal district court. Thus, maritime "necessaries" liens remain enforceable even after the subject vessel is sold, even if the new owner was unaware of the existence of a so-called "secret lien." Upon default on payment or other terms, vessels are also subject to arrest by holders of a Preferred Ship Mortgage.

A vessel arrest is the most powerful remedy available in admiralty. We believe we have more experience arresting vessels than any other law firm in California. On behalf of banks, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), municipalities, marinas, boatyards and other maritime service providers, our firm typically has 5-10 vessels under arrest at any given time. It is of course our practice to attempt to resolve maritime lien issues informally, without arresting vessels. However, some cases simply cannot be resolved amicably, consistent with our clients' interests. When this occurs, we do not hesitate to file a verified complaint in the federal district court seeking orders requiring the U.S. Marshals to arrest the vessel and to subsequently sell her at public auction.

Vessel arrest cases usually move fairly quickly through the courts, with a warrant for vessel arrest typically being issued within two to five court days following the filing of a verified complaint and other vessel arrest documents. Once the court issues an order requiring the arrest of a vessel, the U.S. Marshals promptly arrests the vessel. When the arrest occurs anyone aboard is required to vacate the vessel, and, in the absence of a court order, no one is permitted aboard while the vessel arrest lawsuit is pending - even if people had been living aboard. Once a vessel is arrested, custody is transferred from the U.S. Marshals to the "substitute custodian" nominated by the arresting party. It is unusual for vessel arrest cases to go to trial, because such cases are typically based on clear breaches of written contracts, and therefore they can be concluded by way of a motion for summary judgment or a motion for entry of default judgment. However, when vessel arrest cases are tried, our very highly experienced maritime trial attorneys are fully prepared to pursue these cases to judgment, whether the case is tried to a jury or before a judge.

Rule B attachments under these claims allows for a boatyard or marina to attach a vessel as a part of a lawsuit that both forces the owner who is not present in the given federal district to appear and answer our clients' charges, and to secure payment of any debits owed upon the judicial sale of the attached property. These lawsuits often go forward without there being an actual lien upon the vessel.

It is often difficult for boatyards to determine the best possible strategy for resolving claims against ship owners. Our maritime lawyers routinely use both of these approaches in resolving such lawsuits on the Northern and Southern California coast. Because of our knowledge both of maritime law and maritime collections cases, parties in such lawsuits come to us. We can advise you regarding what strategy to apply, and we have the litigation experience in resolving such matters in an efficient manner.

The Knowledge And Attorney Experience You Need

Brodsky Micklow Bull & Weiss LLP, in San Diego, the Los Angeles/Long Beach harbors, and the San Francisco Bay area, represents clients in California and around the world in a large variety of maritime litigation claims. Besides understanding every aspect of maritime law, we also know how to apply litigation techniques regarding your particular case. Contact our law office by calling (510) 268-6180, (619) 225-8884 or toll free at 855-SEA-SOS1.

The attorneys at Brodsky Micklow Bull & Weiss LLP, in San Diego, have over 100 years of combined maritime commercial litigation experience and experience in serving as lawyers for boatyards, marinas, ship owners, and international marine insurers. We often handle such matters ex parte. (An ex parte matter involves a decision by a court made without requiring all of the parties to be present.) As we have represented parties on both sides of the maritime arrest and attachment process, we understand the strategy other parties will pursue in such actions. We also understand how to quickly take action to protect your financial interests.

Rule B attachments under these claims allows for a boatyard or marina to attach a vessel as a part of a lawsuit. This gives power over the vessel for courts to decide what should happen to the vessel. These lawsuits often go forward without there being an actual lien upon the vessel.

The Knowledge And Attorney Experience You Need

Brodsky Micklow Bull & Weiss LLP, in San Diego and San Francisco, represents clients in California and around the world in a large variety of maritime litigation claims. Besides understanding every aspect of maritime law, we also know how to apply litigation techniques regarding your particular case. Contact our law office by calling 510-268-6180 or toll free at 855-SEA-SOS1.