South Carolina Maritime Lien and Vessel Arrest 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 Cooper and Bilbrey, 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 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. 

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

At the law office of Cooper and Bilbrey, 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.