Vessel “Personification” Bunker Supplier Retains Lien Rights After Settlement | ZFZ Postcard Cases

It is well established under US law that maritime liens attach to a vessel allowing for in rem actions against the vessel itself.

For bunker suppliers, contractual rights against their counterparty in personam and lien rights for providing necessaries to a vessel arising by law offer distinct ways of recovery for non-payment.

The Fourth Circuit underscored this in Addax Energy v. M/V Yasa Mulla, No. 18-2438, 2021 WL 220725 (4th Cir. 2021). There, the Court disagreed with the defendant-vessel’s argument that a prior settlement agreement between supplier and charterers covering the breach of contract claims would prevent the supplier from bringing an in rem action against the vessel. The vessel was not part of the settlement and lien rights of the supplier were not addressed. The Court held there was no waiver of the in rem claims by settling the breach of contract claims. Note, double recovery is not allowed.