Ravenel Bridge Charleston SC

South Carolina Maritime Lien Lawyers



Maritime liens against vessels are different in many aspects from landside liens against houses or cars. For instance, unlike the general priority rule for landside liens (“first in time, first in right”), the general rule for priority in maritime liens is “LAST in time, FIRST in right.” This means that the longer you delay in enforcing your claim, the more likely you are to lose priority for your claim and not get paid.

Maritime liens arise as a matter of law, with or without express agreement. If you have provided supplies or other necessaries to a vessel, if the owner or crew has breached a contract, if you have been injured due to a vessel’s unseaworthiness or in a collision, if you are a lender with a preferred ship mortgage, or if the owner of a boat or ship owes you money, you may have a maritime lien.

You may be able to recover through enforcement of the lien. However, you do have other options available to you. It is important to discuss strategy with an experienced maritime and admiralty law attorney before enforcing a maritime lien.

The Charleston law firm of John Hughes Cooper, P.C., has addressed the maritime and admiralty law needs of  South Carolina communities since 1984. Our attorneys represent banks and other lenders, maritime workers, private boat owners, commercial shipping companies and other marine industries in all manner of maritime legal issues, including maritime lien enforcement actions.

If you have questions about maritime liens, call or Email our Charleston Maritime Attorneys to schedule a private and complimentary initial consultation. We have immediate appointments available for urgent questions.

Put Our Maritime Experience to Work for You  

Maritime liens are available in almost every situation in which a boat owner owes money:

  • Foreclosure for failure to pay a ship mortgage;
  • Failure to pay marina fees or repair charges;
  • Tort liens for a finding of tort liability against a boat owner after an accident caused injury or property damage;
  • Contract liens for supplies and other necessaries or for failure to pay wages; and
  • Salvage liens for failure to compensate salvors for rendering aid to a vessel in distress.

A maritime lien gives the lien holder an extremely powerful right — the right to arrest force the sale of the vessel to satisfy the debt. If the vessel encumbered by the lien cannot be found, the debt may be enforced against other vessels or property owned by the same owner through the process of attachment, which can also lead to sale of the vessels or property to satisfy the debt.  Such enforcement begins via a process called vessel arrest or vessel attachment

Sometimes, it is not necessary for a debt holder to undertake the sometimes costly process of arresting a vessel in order to get payment for a debt. In some circumstances, pressure may be brought to bear against the debtor by filing a notice of the lien with the U.S. Coast Guard National Vessel Documentation Center. This notice may cloud the title to the vessel and discourage potential buyers. This, in turn, may encourage the current owner to make good on the debt.

Liens Against Foreign-Flag Vessels: The law office of John Hughes Cooper, P.C., can enforce liens against foreign-flag vessels that are in U.S. waters in and around South Carolina.

Call 843-883-9099 · Free Consultations · Immediate Appointments Available

At the law office of John Hughes Cooper, P.C., we understand that placing, enforcing and defending against maritime liens can become an urgent issue. We offer consultations after regular business hours and have immediate appointments available for urgent questions.

To schedule a free, confidential consultation with our Charleston Maritime Attorneys regarding a maritime lien, please call us at 843-883-9099 or contact us online.

From our law office in Mount Pleasant, John Hughes Cooper, P.C. handles admiralty law and maritime law cases throughout coastal South Carolina (the Lowcountry), the Pee Dee region, communities surrounding Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie, and elsewhere in the Southeast. The communities we serve include Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, Isle of Palms, Sullivan's Island, Georgetown, Beaufort, Hilton Head, North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach, Edisto Island, Walterboro, Pawley's Island, Murrells Inlet, Little River, Conway, Columbia, Florence, Charleston County, Georgetown County, Berkeley County, Beaufort County, Horry County, Jasper County and Colleton County.

Disclaimer: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

This website uses the Google AdWords remarketing service to advertise on third party websites (including Google) to previous visitors to our site. This could be in the form of an advertisement on the Google search results page, or a site in the Google Display Network. Third-party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on someone’s past visits to the John Hughes Cooper, P.C. website. Any data collected will be used in accordance with our own privacy policy and Google’s privacy policy. You can set preferences for how Google advertises to you using the Google Ad Preferences page, and if you want to you can opt out of interest-based advertising entirely by cookie settings or permanently using a browser plugin.