Vessel Arrests

We specialize in . . .

IMG offers a variety of legal services for lenders, borrowers, or guarantors who need guidance with vessel arrests, judicial and non-judicial foreclosures, and UCC actions.  Whether you are an institutional lender enforcing a preferred ship mortgage or a distressed vessel owner trying to understand your rights and responsibilities under a finance or lease agreement, our attorneys have the experience and expertise to help you find the answers you need.

The arrest of a ship to obtain security for a maritime claim is a powerful weapon for creditors who are owed money. Do you need help recovering money from a vessel owner? Conversely, are you a vessel owner who is on the brink of getting their vessel arrested for a past debt? In either case, IMG can help.

Covid-19 has dramatically changed the legal landscape of vessel arrests, non-judicial foreclosures, debtor remedies and creditors rights.  This specialized practice area now requires thorough understanding of admiralty law, civil procedure, attachment law, bankruptcy law, and state and federal consumer protection laws. In addition, every vessel arrest or non-judicial foreclosure has unique legal questions that require practical know-how and common sense, which is why so many vessel owners, charterers, lenders, shipyards, lien holders, businesses and governments look to us for legal assistance. Indeed, when it comes to vessel arrests, non-judicial foreclosures, debtor remedies and creditors rights, our attorneys have a proven track record of helping our clients achieve their goals—on time and under budget.


  • Over $1,000,000.00 judgment from the Western District of Washington for breach of preferred ship mortgage and deficiency.
  • Over $225,000.00 judgment for attorneys’ fees in deficiency collection action.
  • Judgment in favor of lender dismissing borrower’s claims of Uniform Commercial Code violations during repossession and sale of vessel.
  • Negotiated payments from defaulted borrower based upon vessel security agreement.
  • Perfection and enforcement of claim of maritime lien and notice of lien for vessel necessaries.

R. Isaak Hurst, Esq.

Founder and Principal Attorney

  • 24/7 Emergency Response
  • Arbitration & Litigation
  • Maritime Liens and Preferred Ship Mortgages 
  • Vessel Arrests
  • Non-Judicial Foreclosures
  • UCC Actions
  • Deficiency Judgments
  • Commercial Reasonableness
  • Out-of-Court Restructuring

or call (206) 707-8338
to speak to someone today.

How We Can Help

Recognizing that an ounce of prevention can be worth many millions of dollars in savings on legal fees, IMG employs a practical approach when assisting clients with their legal needs.  We approach vessel arrests and non-judicial foreclosures from a business and entrepreneurial perspective, allowing us to anticipate our clients’ needs and develop practical and cost-effective business and legal solutions. Indeed, IMG’s lawyers are highly responsive problem solvers with substantial experience in the due diligence, negotiation and structuring techniques necessary to facilitate the consummation of the most complex and challenging vessel arrests and non-judicial foreclosures.  

Vessel Arrests

Depending on the nature and size of the debt, as well as client expectations, IMG attorneys are often called upon to assist lenders, creditors, and lien holders with the following:

  • Locate vessel owners and discover their assets and liabilities;
  • Negotiate a prelitigation settlement or voluntary repayment plan with the vessel owner;
  • File suit against a vessel owner who fails to timely pay their debts;
  • Provide guidance on pre-judgement and post-judgment remedies;
  • Enforce a judgment against a vessel owner; or
  • Represent the creditors’ interests in federal bankruptcy court if a vessel owner files bankruptcy.
Lawsuit document - International Maritime Group
Debt collection - International Maritime Group

Non-Judicial Foreclosures

Vessel mortgages and supporting loan agreements often provide that the lender may take possession of the mortgaged vessel and conduct a private non-judicial sale of the vessel. Navigating the seas of non-judicial foreclosures, however, is not without its challenges.  When successful, these "self-help" asset recovery strategies can results in a rewarding and cost effective vessel repossession, but these legal waters are not without challenges.  Indeed, even the slightest mistake can subject the lender to a myriad of legal challenges from the borrower/vessel owner. In instances involving non-judicial foreclosures, IMG frequently provides guidance on the following issues:

  • Judicial vs. Non-Judicial Cost/Benefit Analysis
  • Self-Help and Repossession - Initial Considerations
  • Notice of Default compliance
  • Care and Custody of the Vessel
  • Notice of Sale requirements
  • Legal considerations associated with selling the distressed Vessel
  • Lender’s Bids
  • Rescinding a Sale
  • Commercial Reasonableness
  • Deficiency Judgments

International Vessel Arrests

IMG regularly deals with domestic and international vessel arrest issues for our clients.  Our highly regarded team of attorneys have a strong track record of managing the complexities of vessel arrests and non-judicial foreclosures that involve multi-jurisdictional disputes and conflict of laws situations. Our main priority is to resolve disputes quickly and effectively with as little disruption to business as possible, which is why IMG attorneys are the legal advisors of choice when it comes to vessel arrests and non-judicial foreclosures.  


International Trade Law - International Maritime Group

Frequently Asked Questions

A maritime lien is a lien on a vessel that is given to secure the claim of a creditor who has provided goods and services to the vessel or who has suffered an injury caused by the vessel's operation. Maritime liens, like other liens, are important tools for both vessel owners and their creditors. For vessel owners, a lien can provide valuable cash, supplies, and repairs. For creditors, the relatively easy applicability of maritime liens provides a measure of protection in a trade that is, by its very nature, in a constant state of flux. 

Non-judicial foreclosure, i.e., a Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) foreclosure sale, is the basic method under Article 9 of the UCC for a secured creditor to realize on personal property collateral securing its loans. A UCC foreclosure sale involves the secured creditor disposing of the collateral in a public sale (i.e., an auction), without judicial process. A key requirement of Article 9-610 in this context is that every aspect of the disposition, including the method, manner, time, place, and other terms, must be commercially reasonable.

The scope of a marine lender’s duty of reasonable care in the preservation of a vessel is not clearly defined. Borrowers may challenge a lender’s performance of this statutory duty if the price obtained at the sale of a repossessed vessel does not meet their expectations, which are often high. And there are creative ways to argue that the lender violated its statutory duty.

Lenders should take precautionary measures and, importantly, ensure that adequate records are maintained for a minimum of two years following the sale of collateral. A wise lender will ensure that it carefully selects the third-party vendors that will store and maintain their repossessed vessels. Some courts consider regular maintenance and replacement of essential components as important factors supporting reasonable care. Surveys can also provide a valuable tool for demonstrating a lender’s reasonable care in preservation.

While courts have held that the duty of care of collateral does not place a burden on the secured party to perform repairs to the collateral in order to obtain the best price possible at a foreclosure sale or auction, a lender should take measures that one would reasonably expect to preserve the collateral in its status quo and prevent deterioration which could affect a subsequent sales price. For items other than vessels, some courts have held that the collateral need not be preserved entirely, provided proper efforts were made to ensure preservation.

Uniform Commercial Code (“UCC”) is a Uniform Act (proposed state law) approved by the Uniform Law Commission which attempts to harmonize the laws of commercial transactions through its adoption by the states. Adoption of the UCC by the states is not entirely uniform, however, and is subject to revisions and different statutory interpretations in each state.

In states that have adopted Uniform Commercial Code (“UCC”) Section 9-207, marine lenders who resort to repossession following a default have a duty to preserve the collateral. In the words of the model code, the lender must “use reasonable care in the custody and preservation” of the vessel while it is “in the secured party's possession.”

The authors of the model code have offered some guidance: “[t]he fact that a greater amount could have been obtained…at a different time or in a different method… is not of itself sufficient to preclude the secured party from establishing that the… disposition… was made in a commercially reasonable manner.” (UCC §9-627). In other words, a borrower’s allegation that the vessel could have been sold for more is insufficient, standing alone, to support a finding that a sale was not commercially reasonable under Section 9-610. Official Comment to 62A.9A-610, Section 10.

The primary focus of commercial reasonableness, therefore, is not the proceeds received from the sale but rather the procedures employed in the sale. If the procedures were commercially reasonable, the size of the deficiency should be irrelevant, and courts have echoed a concern that deficiency judgment suits should not be turned into valuation cases. In practice, however, this proscription is often ignored and marine lenders find themselves defending the commercial reasonableness of their sale procedures simply because a sale price appears low.

The question of commercial reasonableness can extend to the analysis of the fair market listing price of the vessel, methods of marketing the vessel, negotiations in the sale price, capabilities of surveyors, brokers and other third parties and beyond.

The authors put teeth into these commercial reasonableness provisions by providing certain remedies for the lender’s failure to be commercially reasonable in the preservation or sale of a vessel. These potential damages include the borrower’s direct losses as a result of the violation, in addition to an amount “not less than the credit service charge plus 10 percent of the principal amount of the obligation….” The “credit service charge” here is left to the interpretation of the courts in the various jurisdictions. But many have found that it equals the amount of the finance charge in the Truth In Lending Disclosure Statement. It is easy to see how, in the right circumstances, these penalties could add up to an amount much greater than the deficiency a lender is pursuing, or perhaps even more than the loan obligation itself.

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