The seizure of marine fuel, as one of the preservation measures for maritime claims specified in the PRC Maritime Litigation Special Procedure Law, is not as widely used as the seizure of vessels. In certain circumstances it can, however, help a maritime claimant to realize its claim. But a lack of specific provisions relating to the seizure of marine fuel in PRC law leads to much uncertainty in practice.
The need for fuel seizure
The value of the seizure of marine fuel as a preservation measure can be illustrated in the following circumstances. A maritime claimant has the right to bring a maritime claim against a vessel time charterer. It is not possible for the claimant to apply for seizure of the vessel or cargo, which do not belong to the respondent. The claimant’s only recourse may be to apply for seizure of the marine fuel belonging to the charterer under the time charter party.
One advantage of opting for the seizure of marine fuel rather than seizure of a vessel is that the amounts that the courts require to be provided as security for the applications are different. When a PRC maritime court accepts an application for seizure of a vessel, it requires the claimant to provide a large amount as security, regardless of the amount of the claim involved. This amount is usually equivalent to 30 days’ hire of the seized vessel. When the amount of the claim is significantly less than this, the amount of security required may dissuade the claimant from taking action.
Henry Lee is a senior partner and Jessy Wang is a lawyer at Dacheng Law Offices
Dacheng Law Offices LLP, Shanghai
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