Maritime Liens & Ship Arrest by Crewmembers

Maritime Liens & Ship Arrest by Crewmembers

Shipping claims frequently require immediate, aggressive action.  If you need urgent legal advice in relation to arrest of a vessel or exercising a maritime lien, our experienced maritime lawyers will take prompt action against the opposing party on your behalf.  We have a wealth of expertise gained from years of experience acting for clients in The Bahamas - a major international transshipment centre.

Our expert maritime lawyers have detailed knowledge of one of the largest and busiest container ports in the world.  Our knowledge is enhanced by our good relationships with the local port authorities.

Crew Members’ Arrest of a Maritime Vessel

Ship arrest is often an appropriate remedy for creditors to the marine industry and is an excellent way in which to obtain security for your claim.  If, for instance, a ship owner needs to repossess his vessel under the charter party; or bunker suppliers have yet to be paid, arrest may be the best remedy, depending on the circumstances.

A ship can be arrested in rem and/or in personam as security while a maritime claim launched against the owner (or charterer) is in progress, or once the court has issued a judgment in respect of the vessel.

The Bahamas is party to the Arrest Convention 1952 (largely followed by the Supreme Court Act “SCA”) which sets out the procedure relating to who can arrest, for what claims an arrest can be claimed, maritime liens and so on.

There are a number of claims for which you may legally arrest a vessel, including:

  • possession or ownership of a ship
  • claims for damage caused by or to a ship
  • personal injury claims resulting from a defect in a ship
  • compensation claims for loss of, or damage to, goods carried on a ship
  • claims relating to use, hire, salvage, towage and pilotage of a ship
  • claims for wages
  • claims arising out of collisions


It is important to bear in mind a claim for wrongful arrest could be made but this usually requires demonstration of bad faith or gross negligence.

To arrest a ship, you must be able to satisfy the court that the ship to be arrested has a sufficient connection with the claim – ‘sufficient connection’ to be determined by s8 SCA (the owner or charterer of or in possession or control of the vessel).

We can advise you in relation to a potential ship arrest and / or the claim/s you wish to make.  Where appropriate, we can also advise on whose responsibility it is to maintain the vessel while under arrest and the costs involved.

Maritime Liens

A maritime lien is a claim against maritime property in respect of non payment of goods or services supplied to that property.  A lien may also arise in respect of a compensation claim for injuries caused by the property.

The Merchant Shipping Act 1976 (“MSA”) sets out claims that can be secured by maritime liens.  These include unpaid seamen wages, unpaid port, canal and pilotage fees, personal injury claims against the ship owner, tort claims against the owner, and claims for salvage and wreck removal.  The MSA also sets out how the priority of these liens is to be ranked and paid, and our expert lawyers can advise you how this will impact on your particular circumstances.

Whether your maritime legal issue relates to obtaining or challenging vessel arrests; exercising maritime liens or other related matters, contact the experienced maritime dispute lawyers at Parris Whittaker for expert advice and prompt action. Contact us.