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Rearrest and Reattachment of Property

The purpose of a bond is to secure the release of the vessel which was seized for any omission or violation of law.  According to 28 USCS § 2464, the  owner of any vessel may deliver to the United States marshal a bond with sufficient surety, to be approved by the district court judge, “conditioned to answer the decree of such court in all or any cases that are brought thereafter in such court against the vessel.”  On such payment, the execution of all process against such vessel shall be stayed so long as the amount secured by such bond is at least double the aggregate amount claimed by the libellants.  Therefore, where libellant owner filed libel against chartered owner for damages to ship caused by collision, and respondent attached libellant’s vessel, libellant was not entitled to have its ship released without filing bond for value under 28 USCS § 2464.[i]

The payment of bond acts as a substitute for the vessel, which is subsequently discharged from the liens involved in the suit.  Hence the court is not empowered to recall a vessel once it has been released on bond.  Further, law prohibits any rearrest of the vessel on the basis of the same cause of action and this cannot be done even if the parties consent to such an action.  Giving of bond under 28 USCS § 2464 discharged the lien and vessel could not be seized again on same cause of action.[ii]

A vessel can be rearrested, however, if the court released the vessel by mistake.  However, the mistake requires a showing that there was fraud or misrepresentation or that the mistake was committed by the court and not by the claimant.  Thus, if the vessel was released on a lesser bond as the result of fraud, misrepresentation or mistakes sufficient to justify the vessel’s rearrest, the court can compel additional security to be posted as a precondition to avoiding a rearrest.[iii]

Therefore, after the release of a vessel, party whose lien has been discharged can no longer recover on claim asserted in that action in rem against the vessel, and such person’s remedy is limited to recovery in amount of bond and to judgment in personam against vessel owner for any deficiency.[iv]

However, such a legal stipulation would imperil the rights of the parties if the bond was insufficient to satisfy the eventual judgment.  In such a case, a common law remedy exists for attaching the vessel.  Thus, only the right to arrest the vessel or bring maritime attachment against it is lost by release of the maritime attachment or arrest and the vessel remains liable to common-law attachment, “if an in personam judgment against the owner is obtained for the deficiency in the bond.”  The payment of bond extinguishes the original maritime lien. Hence where liens had been extinguished by providing bond under  28 USCS § 2464, “other lienors and ordinary mortgagee took precedence as to property.” [v]

[i] Partenreederei Wallschiff v The Pioneer (1954, DC Mich) 120 F Supp 525.

[ii] Th Phantasy, 4 F. Supp. 920 (D. Del. 1933)

[iii] Industria Nacional Del Papel, CA. v. M/V “Albert F”, 730 F.2d 622, 626 (11th Cir. Fla. 1984)

[iv] Southern Oregon Production Credit Asso. v The Oil Screw Sweet Pea (1977, DC Or) 435 F Supp 454

[v] Gray v Hopkins-Carter Hardware Co. (1929, CA5 Fla) 32 F2d 876

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