Chapter 18

Tenth Edition (2017)


A seaman to whom wages are due has a right of action against the owner, the crew may bring an action in the Admiralty court either in personam against the owner, or in rem against the ship but he cannot recover wages beyond the day on which the suit is filed and if he fails to obtain relief by one process, the other remains open to him.
The general rule is that any person who has done any work on board a ship can bring an action to obtain what is due to him.  The jurisdiction of the court extends to foreign  seamen on board foreign ships, but when a foreign ship is sued in rem, notice of the action should be sent to the consul of the country to which the ship belongs.
The meaning of the word wages and the times from which they begin to accrue and at which they are payable have to be considered. To fall within the term wages for the purpose of an action in the Admiralty court, the sums sued for must have been earned on board the ship, not necessarily at sea, but in work on the vessel itself, or in duties connected with it.

In relation to the ranking of claims it is interesting to note that salvage has priority over (a) earlier salvage, (b) earlier damage, (c) earlier wages, (d) earlier claims to forfeiture by the crown, (e) subsequent possessory liens, (f) necessaries, and (g) mortgages. A salvors lien ranks first (and in reverse order of time if there is more than one salvor -ie., later before earlier) simply because without the emergency services he renders there would be no funds preserved out of which anybody could be satisfied.

A maritime lien is extinguished with the destruction of the vessel or property, or laches (undue delay in enforcement), or is discharged by payment or judicial act. A maritime lien would be extinguished when the intention of the owner of the vessel is no longer to deploy the vessel for navigation and the vessel has been imported into India for the purpose of demolition/ ship recycling.
BCAS: 7103-1001