Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Sister Ship Arrest Definition:

Maritime law: In the context of a legal claim against a particular ship, and in certain circumstances, the law allows the arrest of another ship belonging to the same owner, called a sister ship.

Canadian author Tetley wrote, in 1998:

"Sister ship arrest is really an attachment, in this case, an attachment of the sister ship. Like an attachment, the sister ship arrest does not mean that the maritime lien against the offending ship becomes enforceable against the sister ship. For example, a claimant who may have a maritime lien for collision damage against the offending ship, does not obtain an equal maritime lien against the sister ship. Only the offending ship is subject to the maritime lien. The claimant who enforces his security against the sister ship ranks after all the maritime liens extant against the sister ship, as is only proper, because the rights of the lien holders against the sister ship must be respected. The claimant against the offending ship really has only a statutory right in rem, or something akin to an attachment, on the sister ship."
The fledging International Convention on Arrest of Ships 1999 includes, at Article 3.2:
"Arrest is also permissible of any other ship or ships which, when the arrest is effected, is or are owned by the person who is liable for the maritime claim...."

In Bank of Scotland v The Nel, Master Hargrave of the Federal Court of Canada took some issue with Tetley's summation and noted that a maritime lien was an in rem matter:

"... a maritime lien forms a privileged claim against the specific ship, arising by operation of law. It attaches to the particular ship."

In any event, statute has intervened in several ways. In Canada, §43(8) of the 2008 Federal Courts Act states that (emphasis added):

"The jurisdiction conferred on the Federal Court (in regards to navigation, shipping and maritime jurisdiction) may be exercised in rem against any ship that, at the time the action is brought, is beneficially owned by the person who is the owner of the ship that is the subject of the action."


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