Vessel Arrest in Canada

Vessel Arrest 

In Canada, the Federal Court of Canada has nationwide admiralty jurisdiction.  It is possible to issue a Court action in Vancouver and immediately proceed to arrest a vessel in Montreal or Halifax.  The Federal Court Registry co-operates with maritime lawyers to ensure that documents are issued promptly and efficiently.

Three documents are needed to achieve arrest:

  1. Federal Court Statement of Claim – a 3-4 page document which describes the parties and the principal facts of the case.
  2. Affidavit to Lead Warrant – It describes the nature of the claim, that the claim has not been satisfied, the vessel to be arrested, and location of the vessel.  It can be sworn by a maritime lawyer.
  3. Warrant for Arrest – a single page document directed to a Sheriff ordering arrest of the vessel.

The cost is $150 to issue the Statement of Claim.  Marshall’s disbursement costs are in the range of $300 – $500 depending on location.  In summary, arresting a vessel in Canada is inexpensive and efficient.

Of particular interest are the following characteristics of arrest in Canada:

  1. It is not necessary to put a Marshall in possession of the vessel.
  2. Counter security does not have to be posted by the Claimant.
  3. A Power of Attorney is not required.
  4. The Court has jurisdiction over the vessel “In Rem” by reason of the presence of the vessel in Canadian waters.   There is no requirement for a Canadian connection to the claim other than the presence of the vessel in Canada.
  5. For parties involved in arbitration, it is possible to arrest a vessel in Canada to obtain security for a claim being arbitrated in a foreign arbitration.

In summary, it is possible to achieve arrest in Canada on very short notice, in as little as 2 -3 hours from receipt of instructions at reasonable expense.

There is a Sister Ship arrest in Canada where at the time of the arrest the ship being arrested was owned by the beneficial owner of the vessel against which the original claim is being made.

Maritime Jurisdiction

Maritime jurisdiction is contained in Section 22 of the Federal Courts Act.  The normal subject matters of jurisdiction include:

a) claims with respect to title, possession, or ownership of a ship;

b) questions arising between co-owners of the ship concerning possession, employment, or earnings of a ship;

c) claims in respect of a mortgage, or charge on, a ship or any part interest therein;

d) claims for damages or loss of life, or personal injury;

e) claims for damage sustained by, or for loss of a ship, including damage to or loss of the cargo or equipment of, or any property in or on or being loaded on or off, a ship;

f)  claims arising out of an agreement relating to the carriage of goods on a ship under a through bill of lading;

g) any claim for loss of life or personal injury occurring in connection with the operation of a ship;

h) claim for loss of or damage to goods carried in or on a ship including, without loss of or damage to passengers’ baggage or personal effects;

i)  claims arising out of any agreement relating to the carriage of goods in or on a ship or to the use or hire of a ship whether by charter party or otherwise;

j)  any claim for salvage;

k) any claim for towage;

l)  any claim for pilotage;

m) any claim in respect of goods, materials or services wherever supplied to a ship for the operation or maintenance of the ship, including, claims in respect of stevedoring and lighterage;

n) any claim arising out of a contract relating to the construction, repair or equipping of a ship;

o) any claim by a master, officer or member of the crew of a ship for wages, money, property or other remuneration;

p) any claim by a master, charterer or agent of a ship or shipowner in respect of disbursements;

q) any claim in respect of general average contribution;

r) any claim arising out of or in connection with a contract of marine insurance; and

s) any claim for dock charges, harbour dues, charges for the use of facilities.

The subject matter of maritime jurisdiction is defined in Section 22 of the Federal Courts Act.  Canadian maritime jurisdiction follows generally the law of United Kingdom.