The Arrest of Cargo

Author: Peter Swanson


The arrest of property is a powerful legal tool. It enables a claimant to obtain security for their claim before having to prove the merits of their case. All a claimant needs to do is commence suit, and show by way of affidavit that their claim comes within the type of claim which gives rise to a right of arrest. Section 22 (2) of the Federal Court Act sets out a list of claims that give rise to a right of arrest. That list is not exhaustive of the types of claims that give rise to a right to arrest. It is, however, the key source that is looked to when considering whether it is possible to arrest a ship or other property. Of
course, the most common property arrested is a ship.

Quite typically the actual arrest of a ship or other property is avoided by the provision of security (bail). Even when a ship or other property is arrested it is often later released on the posting of security. Security is given to the value of the claim (plus a sum for interest and costs) or the value of the property arrested, whichever is the lesser. Security is formally given by way of bank guarantee, bond from an acceptable surety company, or by bail bond. Informally, security can be given in a number of different forms, including by way of letter of undertaking from P&I insurers.

About Peter Swanson

Peter is a founding partner of the firm with over 30 years of professional legal experience. He practices primarily in the fields of maritime and health law. Peter’s maritime case work involves vessel arrest and security, carriage of goods by sea, enforcement of maritime liens, civil and regulatory liability for ship source pollution, collision, port state intervention, immigration, bodily injury,… view full profile »