Ninth Circuit Applies U.S. Maritime Lien to a Pervasively Foreign Dispute


On 11 March 2008, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Trans-Tec Asia v. M/V Harmony Container. The Court held that a lien under the Federal Maritime Lien Act ("FMLA") attached to a foreign-owned and foreign-flagged vessel based on non-payment to a foreign "necessaries" supplier for goods delivered in a foreign port. The FMLA allows persons with claims against a vessel’s owner or operator to enforce maritime liens against the vessel itself under the legal fiction that the vessel is responsible. (Although this case applied a FMLA lien to a vessel when it was found in a U.S. port, the implication of the holding is that U.S. law could apply under these circumstances regardless of the port of call.)

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