Persons entitled to lien under USA Code 1982
S J Tubrazy
United States Code, 1982 Edition” published by the Government Printing Office, United States. Section 971 contained therein, reads as follows;
971. Persons entitled to lien, ‑Any person furnishing repairs, supplies, towage, use of dry dock or marine railway, or other necessaries to any vessel, whether foreign or domestic, upon the order of the owner of such vessel, or of a person authorized by the owner, shall have a maritime lien on the vessel, which may be enforced by suit in rem, and it shall not be necessary to allege or prove that credit was given to the vessel.
A perusal of the above‑quoted section indicates that a maritime lien is created in respect of claim for necessary supplies and repairs etc. under the above provision. However, the question remains, whether the above section was applicable to the Port of Houston where the supplies were made, as there may be different law relating to maritime lien in different States of U.S.A. as is evident from the judgment in the case of The Milford (166 English Reports 1167), wherein the following observations have been made:‑‑
“The main question is, whether the Court ought to apply the lex loci contractus or the lex fori; and if the latter, whether the law of maritime, as administered previous to the changes made therein by statute law, or the law as it now stands under the Merchants Shipping Act. It is impossible not to be struck with the inconvenience which might ensue if the Court is to be governed by the lex loci contractus; in every case in which a foreign seaman or master is sued, the Court would have to enquire into the contract and into the law of the country under which it was made; and the difficulties with respect to the United States of America is very great, for, though the decisions of their Supreme Court may, generally speaking, be binding, yet the laws of their different states vary in their application of maritime law as well as in their municipal regulations;”
It may be pertinent to observe that the remedy by way of arrest of a vessel etc. was available even in medieval times for certain claims but the expression “Maritime Lien” was probably coined in English Law by Sir Jevis while rendering the judgment of the Privy Council in the case of The Bold Buccleuh ((1851) 7, 700 PC 267). There is no universal definition of the above term. The jurists of eminence have differently defined it. Lord Alkin L. J in the case of Tervaet ((1922) 259 CA) defined it as follows:
“ the right by legal proceedings in an appropriate form to have the ship seized by the officers of the Court and made available by sale if not released on bail”.