CONVENTION ON ARREST
OF SHIPS, 1999
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION ON ARREST OF SHIPS, 1999
The States Parties to this Convention,
Recognizing the desirability of facilitating the harmonious and orderly
development of world seaborne trade,
Convinced of the necessity for a legal instrument establishing international
uniformity in the field of arrest of ships which takes account of recent
developments in related fields,
Have agreed as follows:
For the purposes of this Convention:
1. "Maritime Claim" means a claim arising out of one or more of the following:
(a) loss or damage caused by the operation of the
(b) loss of life or personal injury occurring,
whether on land or on water, in direct connection with the operation of
(c) salvage operations or any salvage agreement,
including, if applicable, special compensation relating to salvage operations
in respect of a ship which by itself or its cargo threatened damage to
(d) damage or threat of damage caused by the ship
to the environment, coastline or related interests; measures taken to prevent,
minimize, or remove such damage; compensation for such damage; costs of
reasonable measures of reinstatement of the environment actually undertaken
or to be undertaken; loss incurred or likely to be incurred by third parties
in connection with such damage; and damage, costs, or loss of a similar
nature to those identified in this subparagraph (d);
(e) costs or expenses relating to the raising,
removal, recovery, destruction or the rendering harmless of a ship which
is sunk, wrecked, stranded or abandoned, including anything that is or
has been on board such ship, and costs or expenses relating to the preservation
of an abandoned ship and maintenance of its crew;
(f) any agreement relating to the use or hire of
the ship, whether contained in a charter party or otherwise;
(g) any agreement relating to the carriage of goods
or passengers on board the ship, whether contained in a charter party or
(h) loss of or damage to or in connection with
goods (including luggage) carried on board the ship;
(i) general average;
(l) goods, materials, provisions, bunkers, equipment
(including containers) supplied or services rendered to the ship for its
operation, management, preservation or maintenance;
(m) construction, reconstruction, repair, convertingor
equipping of the ship;
(n) port, canal, dock, harbour and other waterway
dues and charges;
(o) wages and other sums due to the master, officers
and other members of the ship's complement in respect of their employment
on the ship, including costs of repatriation and social insurance contributions
payable on their behalf;
(p) disbursements incurred on behalf of the ship
or its owners;
(q) insurance premiums (including mutual insurance calls) in respect of the ship, payable by or on behalf of the shipowner or demise charterer;
(r) any commissions, brokerages or agency fees
payable in respect of the ship by or on behalf of the shipowner or demise
(s) any dispute as to ownership or possession of
(t) any dispute between co-owners of the ship as
to the employment or earnings of the ship;
(u) a mortgage or a "hypothèque" or a charge
of the same nature on the ship;
(v) any dispute arising out of a contract for the
sale of the ship.
2. "Arrest" means any detention or restriction on removal of a ship by
order of a Court to secure a maritime claim, but does not include the seizure
of a ship in execution or satisfaction of a judgment or other enforceable
3. "Person" means any individual or partnership or any public or private
body, whether corporate or not, including a State or any of its constituent
4. "Claimant" means any person asserting a maritime claim.
5. "Court" means any competent judicial authority of a State.
Powers of arrest
1. A ship may be arrested or released from arrest only under the authority
of a Court of the State Party in which the arrest is effected.
2. A ship may only be arrested in respect of a maritime claim but in respect
of no other claim.
3. A ship may be arrested for the purpose of obtaining security notwithstanding
that, by virtue of a jurisdiction clause or arbitration clause in any relevant
contract, or otherwise, the maritime claim in respect of which the arrest
is effected is to be adjudicated in a State other than the State where
the arrest is effected, or is to be arbitrated, or is to be adjudicated
subject to the law of another State.
4. Subject to the provisions of this Convention, the procedure relating
to the arrest of a ship or its release shall be governed by the law of
the State in which the arrest was effected or applied for.
Exercise of right of arrest
1. Arrest is permissible of any ship in respect of which a maritime claim
is asserted if:
(a) the person who owned the ship at the time when
the maritime claim arose is liable for the claim and is owner of the ship
when the arrest is effected; or
(b) the demise charterer of the ship at the time
when the maritime claim arose is liable for the claim and is demise charterer
or owner of the ship when the arrest is effected; or
(c) the claim is based upon a mortgage or a "hypothèque"
or a charge of the same nature on the ship; or
(d) the claim relates to the ownership or possession
of the ship; or
(e) the claim is against the owner, demise charterer,
manager or operator of the ship and is secured by a maritime lien which
is granted or arises under the law of the State where the arrest is applied
2. Arrest is also permissible of any other ship or ships which, when the
arrest is effected, is or are owned by the person who is liable for the
maritime claim and who was, when the claim arose:
(a) owner of the ship in respect of which the maritime
claim arose; or
(b) demise charterer, time charterer or voyage
charterer of that ship.
This provision does not apply to claims in respect of ownership or possession
of a ship.
3. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraphs 1 and 2 of this article,
the arrest of a ship which is not owned by the person liable for the claim
shall be permissible only if, under the law of the State where the arrest
is applied for, a judgment in respect of that claim can be enforced against
that ship by judicial or forced sale of that ship.
Release from arrest
1. A ship which has been arrested shall be released when sufficient security
has been provided in a satisfactory form, save in cases in which a ship
has been arrested in respect of any of the maritime claims enumerated in
article 1, paragraphs 1 (s) and (t). In such cases, the Court may permit
the person in possession of the ship to continue trading the ship, upon
such person providing sufficient security, or may otherwise deal with the
operation of the ship during the period of the arrest.
2. In the absence of agreement between the parties as to the sufficiency
and form of the security, the Court shall determine its nature and the
amount thereof, not exceeding the value of the arrested ship.
3. Any request for the ship to be released upon security being provided
shall not be construed as an acknowledgement of liability nor as a waiver
of any defence or any right to limit liability.
4. If a ship has been arrested in a non-party State and is not released
although security in respect of that ship has been provided in a State
Party in respect of the same claim, that security shall be ordered to be
released on application to the Court in the State Party.
5. If in a non-party State the ship is released upon satisfactory security
in respect of that ship being provided, any security provided in a State
Party in respect of the same claim shall be ordered to be released to the
extent that the total amount of security provided in the two States exceeds:
(a) the claim for which the ship has been arrested,
(b) the value of the ship,
whichever is the lower. Such release shall, however,
not be ordered unless the security provided in the non-party State will
actually be available to the claimant and will be freely transferable.
6. Where, pursuant to paragraph 1 of this article, security has been provided,
the person providing such security may at any time apply to the Court to
have that security reduced, modified, or cancelled.
Right of rearrest and multiple arrest
1. Where in any State a ship has already been arrested and released or
security in respect of that ship has already been provided to secure a
maritime claim, that ship shall not thereafter be rearrested or arrested
in respect of the same maritime claim unless:
(a) the nature or amount of the security in respect
of that ship already provided in respect of the same claim is inadequate,
on condition that the aggregate amount of security may not exceed the value
of the ship; or
(b) the person who has already provided the security
is not, or is unlikely to be, able to fulfil some or all of that person's
(c) the ship arrested or the security previously
provided was released either:
(i) upon the application or with the consent of the claimant acting on reasonable grounds, or
(ii) because the claimant could not by taking reasonable
steps prevent the release.
2. Any other ship which would otherwise be subject to arrest in respect
of the same maritime claim shall not be arrested unless:
(a) the nature or amount of the security already
provided in respect of the same claim is inadequate; or
(b) the provisions of paragraph 1 (b) or (c) of
this article are applicable.
3. "Release" for the purpose of this article shall not include any unlawful
release or escape from arrest.
Protection of owners and demise charterers of arrested ships
1. The Court may as a condition of the arrest of a ship, or of permitting
an arrest already effected to be maintained, impose upon the claimant who
seeks to arrest or who has procured the arrest of the ship the obligation
to provide security of a kind and for an amount, and upon such terms, as
may be determined by that Court for any loss which may be incurred by the
defendant as a result of the arrest, and for which the claimant may be
found liable, including but not restricted to such loss or damage as may
be incurred by that defendant in consequence of:
(a) the arrest having been wrongful or unjustified;
(b) excessive security having been demanded and
2. The Courts of the State in which an arrest has been effected shall have
jurisdiction to determine the extent of the liability, if any, of the claimant
for loss or damage caused by the arrest of a ship, including but not restricted
to such loss or damage as may be caused in consequence of:
(a) the arrest having been wrongful or unjustified,
(b) excessive security having been demanded and
3. The liability, if any, of the claimant in accordance with paragraph
2 of this article shall be determined by application of the law of the
State where the arrest was effected.
4. If a Court in another State or an arbitral tribunal is to determine
the merits of the case in accordance with the provisions of article 7,
then proceedings relating to the liability of the claimant in accordance
with paragraph 2 of this article may be stayed pending that decision.
5. Where pursuant to paragraph 1 of this article security has been provided,
the person providing such security may at any time apply to the Court to
have that security reduced, modified or cancelled.
Jurisdiction on the merits of the case
1. The Courts of the State in which an arrest has been effected or security
provided to obtain the release of the ship shall have jurisdiction to determine
the case upon its merits, unless the parties validly agree or have validly
agreed to submit the dispute to a Court of another State which accepts
jurisdiction, or to arbitration.
2. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph 1 of this article, the Courts
of the State in which an arrest has been effected, or security provided
to obtain the release of the ship, may refuse to exercise that jurisdiction
where that refusal is permitted by the law of that State and a Court of
another State accepts jurisdiction.
3. In cases where a Court of the State where an arrest has been effected
or security provided to obtain the release of the ship:
(a) does not have jurisdiction to determine the
case upon its merits; or
(b) has refused to exercise jurisdiction in accordance
with the provisions of paragraph 2 of this article,
such Court may, and upon request shall, order a
period of time within which the claimant shall bring proceedings before
a competent Court or arbitral tribunal.
4. If proceedings are not brought within the period of time ordered in
accordance with paragraph 3 of this article then the ship arrested or the
security provided shall, upon request, be ordered to be released.
5. If proceedings are brought within the period of time ordered in accordance
with paragraph 3 of this article, or if proceedings before a competent
Court or arbitral tribunal in another State are brought in the absence
of such order, any final decision resulting therefrom shall be recognized
and given effect with respect to the arrested ship or to the security provided
in order to obtain its release, on condition that:
(a) the defendant has been given reasonable notice
of such proceedings and a reasonable opportunity to present the case for
the defence; and
(b) such recognition is not against public policy
6. Nothing contained in the provisions of paragraph 5 of this article shall
restrict any further effect given to a foreign judgment or arbitral award
under the law of the State where the arrest of the ship was effected or
security provided to obtain its release.
1. This Convention shall apply to any ship within the jurisdiction of any
State Party, whether or not that ship is flying the flag of a State Party.
2. This Convention shall not apply to any warship, naval auxiliary or other
ships owned or operated by a State and used, for the time being, only on
government non-commercial service.
3. This Convention does not affect any rights or powers vested in any Government
or its departments, or in any public authority, or in any dock or harbour
authority, under any international convention or under any domestic law
or regulation, to detain or otherwise prevent from sailing any ship within
4. This Convention shall not affect the power of any State or Court to
make orders affecting the totality of a debtor's assets.
5. Nothing in this Convention shall affect the application of international
conventions providing for limitation of liability, or domestic law giving
effect thereto, in the State where an arrest is effected.
6. Nothing in this Convention shall modify or affect the rules of law in
force in the States Parties relating to the arrest of any ship physically
within the jurisdiction of the State of its flag procured by a person whose
habitual residence or principal place of business is in that State, or
by any other person who has acquired a claim from such person by subrogation,
assignment or otherwise.
Non-creation of maritime liens
Nothing in this Convention shall be construed as creating a maritime lien.
1. Any State may, at the time of signature, ratification, acceptance, approval,
or accession, or at any time thereafter, reserve the right to exclude the
application of this Convention to any or all of the following:
(a) ships which are not seagoing;
(b) ships not flying the flag of a State Party;
(c) claims under article 1, paragraph 1 (s).
2. A State may, when it is also a State Party to a specified treaty on
navigation on inland waterways, declare when signing, ratifying, accepting,
approving or acceding to this Convention, that rules on jurisdiction, recognition
and execution of court decisions provided for in such treaties shall prevail
over the rules contained in article 7 of this Convention.
This Convention shall be deposited with the Secretary-General of the United
Signature, ratification, acceptance, approval and accession
1. This Convention shall be open for signature by any State at the Headquarters
of the United Nations, New York, from 1 September 1999 to 31 August 2000
and shall thereafter remain open for accession.
2. States may express their consent to be bound by this Convention by:
(a) signature without reservation as to ratification,
acceptance or approval; or
(b) signature subject to ratification, acceptance
or approval, followed by ratification, acceptance or approval; or
3. Ratification, acceptance, approval or accession shall be effected by
the deposit of an instrument to that effect with the depositary.
States with more than one system of law
1. If a State has two or more territorial units in which different systems
of law are applicable in relation to matters dealt with in this Convention,
it may at the time of signature, ratification, acceptance, approval or
accession declare that this Convention shall extend to all its territorial
units or only to one or more of them and may modify this declaration by
submitting another declaration at any time.
2. Any such declaration shall be notified to the depositary and shall state
expressly the territorial units to which the Convention applies.
3. In relation to a State Party which has two or more systems of law with
regard to arrest of ships applicable in different territorial units, references
in this Convention to the Court of a State and the law of a State shall
be respectively construed as referring to the Court of the relevant territorial
unit within that State and the law of the relevant territorial unit of
Entry into force
1. This Convention shall enter into force six months following the date
on which 10 States have expressed their consent to be bound by it.
2. For a State which expresses its consent to be bound by this Convention
after the conditions for entry into force thereof have been met, such consent
shall take effect three months after the date of expression of such consent.
Revision and amendment
1. A conference of States Parties for the purpose of revising or amending
this Convention shall be convened by the Secretary-General of the United
Nations at the request of one third of the States Parties.
2. Any consent to be bound by this Convention, expressed after the date
of entry into force of an amendment to this Convention, shall be deemed
to apply to the Convention, as amended.
1. This Convention may be denounced by any State Party at any time after
the date on which this Convention enters into force for that State.
2. Denunciation shall be effected by deposit of an instrument of denunciation
with the depositary.
3. A denunciation shall take effect one year, or such longer period as
may be specified in the instrument of denunciation, after the receipt of
the instrument of denunciation by the depositary.
This Convention is established in a single original in the Arabic, Chinese,
English, French, Russian and Spanish languages, each text being equally
DONE AT Geneva this twelfth day of March, one thousand nine hundred and
IN WITNESS WHEREOF the undersigned being duly authorized by their respective
Governments for that purpose have signed this Convention.