A critical discussion of the enforceability of maritime liens against bona fide purchasers.
The law of maritime liens has been a subject of great uncertainty for a long period of time and there has not been any unanimity in terms of certain aspect of this concept. Domestic law vary with regards to the recognition and enforcement of maritime liens. In an attempt to settle some of the uncertain aspects of maritime liens, three international conventions have been adopted to set out a universal list of maritime liens as well as to make uniform the mode of enforcing those maritime liens. The first attempt to achieve uniformity in the law of maritime liens was the International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to Maritime Liens and Mortgages 1926. However this convention did not receive acceptance in most jurisdictions. In 1967, a similar convention was formulated but like its predecessor, it was also not a success. The latest Convention was formulated in 1993 but despite the inclusion of seemingly attractive provisions in terms of ranking and classification of maritime claims, it also failed to get the required accessions and ratifications. This persistence by the international community in trying to regulate maritime liens serves as proof to show that admiralty law is faced with many challenges and inexplicable principles when it comes to maritime liens. This dissertation will grapple with what some may call a very old and distinct aspect of maritime liens, that is, its enforcement against buyers for value without notice. This aspect may very well be common with other types of liens but taking into consideration some of the reasoning behind its existence, perhaps the time has come to look into this issue.