Legal Memorandum: Stevedoring Company's Lien on Containers

Issue: Whether maritime law provide for a lien on containers in a storage facility in favor of a stevedoring company?

Area of Law: Admiralty & Maritime Law, UCC & Secured Transactions
Keywords: Maritime liens; Necessaries provided; Stevedoring services
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 306 F.2d 188; 213 F. 263; 348 F.3d 469; 913 F. Supp. 919; 806 F. Supp. 69; 293 U.S. 21
Cited Statutes: 46 U.S.C. §§ 31341-31342
Date: 12/01/2005

Maritime liens under U.S. law for services provided to a vessel are governed by statute.  The Maritime Lien Act, 46 U.S.C. §§ 31341-31342, provides that a person “providing necessaries to a vessel on the order of the owner or a person authorized by the owner . . . has a maritime lien on the vessel.”  46 U.S.C. § 31342.  Stevedoring services are “necessaries,” and will give rise to a lien.  Schirmer Stevedoring, Ltd. v. Seaboard Stevedoring Corp., 306 F.2d 188, 192 (9th Cir. 1962).  See also Radcliffe American, Ltd. v. M/V Tyson Lykes, 806 F. Supp. 69 (D.S.C. 1992) (containers are “necessaries” within the meaning of the Maritime Lien Act), rev’d on other grounds, 996 F.2d 47 (4th Cir. 1993).  A maritime lien will attach to freight as well as a vessel, by operation of the general rule in maritime law that provides that, if a lien attaches to a vessel, it attaches to the vessel’s freight as well.  Schirmer Stevedoring, 306 F.2d at 192 (citing Gilmore & Black, Law of Admiralty, 511 n.80).

The Maritime Lien Act creates a presumption that a lien attaches to a vessel.  The presumption may be overcome by a showing that the necessaries were obtained without the authority of the owner of the vessel.  Ceres Marine Terminals, Inc. v. M/V Harmer Oldendorff, 913 F. Supp. 919 (Md. 1995).  One question is whether a supplier relies on the credit of the vessel, or on the personal credit of the owner’s agent, […]

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