Imagine receiving a call from your captain informing you the U.S. Marshal arrested your yacht? Keith Brais, a Florida Board Certified Maritime Lawyer, has defended yacht owners for over twenty years and will walk you through the steps needed to release your vessel.
A yacht can be arrested by a Federal Admiralty Court for a number of reasons. The two most common are the failure to make payments on a preferred ship’s mortgage and the failure to pay for goods and the services supplied to the yacht by American suppliers. Suppose you receive that dreaded call from your captain. The first thing you should do is make an appearance in the Federal Court that issued the warrant of arrest. This is done by filing a Verified Statement of Right or Interest pursuant to Federal Admiralty Rule C(6)(a). The Verified Statement must be filed within fourteen (14) days after the vessel was arrested (the Court may extend this time). The document must describe your interest in the vessel in order to support your right to defend against the arrest proceeding. Once the Verified Statement is filed, you have twenty one (21) days to answer the complaint filed by the arresting party.
After an appearance is made, the Admiralty Rules of Court provide for ways in which your yacht can be released. If you think the claim is valid, you can simply pay the demand. This will satisfy the claim. The Court on motion will then release the vessel and the case will be over. However, if you dispute the claim, you can only release your yacht by entering into a stipulation with the arresting party. It is almost a given, however, that the arresting party will require substitute security in the form of cash or bond to be deposited in the Court’s registry sufficient to satisfy the claim, interest and costs. The yacht can also be released by Court. In this situation, the Court will require the yacht owner to post a bond in an amount sufficient to cover the amount of the arresting party’s claim with accrued interest and costs. This bond, however, shall not exceed the lesser of twice the amount of the arresting party’s claim or the value of the property based upon due appraisement.