Maritime lien Definition, Object and scope. Part 1
S J Tubrazy
Crew members and master of the ship have a maritime lien on the vessel .For the claim of their wages, crew members and Master have a maritime lien on the res i.e. the vessel. It is a right in rem enforceable by action in rem. The concept of maritime lien is not alien to jurisprudence. Its peculiarities, characteristics, effects and application are universally accepted and have attained jurisprudential maturity.
Maritime lien is charge on the vessel and travels with it even in the hands of a bona fide purchaser without notice. Where the ship to which a maritime lien was attached was sold by the Court the lien continued to follow the sale proceeds over which the claimant had the same right as on the vessel. It continued till it was satisfied or discharged or lost due to negligence or laches or voluntarily withdrawn by the holder. Maritime lien is distinct from common law or equitable lien. It does not depend upon possession but arises independent of agreement or possession. It now seems to be accepted that a maritime lien was a substantive right whereas statutory right of action in rem was a procedural remedy. By a maritime lien security for the claim to the value of the vessel is provided to the lience and he can get the res arrested without joining the owner whose name or address may not be available. It provides a convenient mode of executing and realising the’ maritime claim.
Maritime lien is an invisible and indelible right which attaches with the res in respect of which the claim arises. It attaches to the property in its entirety equally encumbering each and every part of it.
The crew and master had precedence over the appellant whose claim ranks inferior to their claim. Once the vessel was arrested by the Court, it remained in the custody of the Court for the satisfaction of the claim or claims; as the case may be. The maritime lien continues and travels with the res. Once a Court of competent jurisdiction sells the res in an action in rem, the purchaser gets a clear and unincumbered title and the sale proceeds come in the hands of the Court. The maritime lien which had attached to the ship does not extinguish with the sale but is transferred to the sale proceeds in the hands of the Court. The sale proceeds will be subject to the same lien and claim which a lienee had on the ship (res). The Court thus keeps the proceeds in its custody for the satisfaction of the claim of the claimants.