Recovery of outstanding disbursements
A ship agent Member in Puerto Rico acted for charterers who operated a regular service between San Juan and Florida using a particular ship which called at San Juan two or three times each month. The charterers informed the agent that the ship had been taken back by her owners, and that they had no assets with which to settle the outstanding disbursements owed to the agent which totalled US$160,000. The charterers subsequently went into bankruptcy.
US law provides that US suppliers of goods and services to a ship have a right of lien over the ship, even if the services are ordered by the charterers and not the owners. The Club's lawyers therefore arrested the ship in New Orleans and the owners provided security for the agent's claim to obtain her release.
For over two years the owners fought every aspect of the claim, and it was not until a few days before the case was due to be heard before the New Orleans District Court that the owners agreed to pay the agent US$180,000. Unfortunately, the lengthy dispute resulted in a very satisfactory outcome for the agent.