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Admiralty and Maritime Legal Counsel
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Self-Help in the Maritime Law . . . a good idea?

Self-help. You hear references to this concept a lot in some circles. They're audio tapes, DVD's and online videos that promise to get you back on track, make money, lose weight, etc. But, I’m not talking about that stuff.

I’m talking about self-help in maritime law. I’m talking about where without any judicial permission a business maybe tows away a customer’s vessel because of an outstanding invoice. Or, maybe, a business retrieves its equipment from a warehouse it doesn’t own.

Now every circumstance is going to be different, and this is just me issue spotting, but these types of self-help endeavors can land your business in shoal water. While limited exceptions may exist (for instance, in the case of certain vessel mortgages and, perhaps, in certain contractual scenarios), my general experience is that self-help maneuvers are prohibited and your best remedy is found in the court system. What you want to avoid is having your delinquent customer use your self-help action against you by filing a criminal complaint or pursuing a civil action.

Here’s some self-help advice, whenever you get itchy to take matters into your own hands, help yourself by calling your admiralty attorney first and previewing the scenario.

Underway and making way.

--- Fulweiler llc

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