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Arrest of vessels in Sweden in brief, by Peter J. Lindskog, Skarp Stockholm Advokatbyrå AB


P O Box 7467
103 92 Stockholm
Tel: +46 8 454 44 21
Fax: +46 8 454 44 01


Vessels in Sweden may be arrested anywhere in Sweden and not only in the ports stated on the www.shiparrested.com website for Sweden. We are authorized to act in any Swedish jurisdiction.

Pursuant to Chapter 4 of the Swedish Maritime Code, vessels may generally only be arrested for maritime claims as defined under Chapter 4 Section 3 of the Maritime Code and the claim must be based on one or several of the following circumstances:

1. Damage to assets caused by a vessel due to collision or in any other way,

2. damage to a person caused by a vessel or arisen in connection with the operation of the vessel,

3. salvage,

4. bare-boat charter party,

5. agreement based on a charter party, bill of lading or in other ways regarding transport of goods by a vessel,

6. loss of or damage to goods, including luggage, transported by a vessel,

7. general average,

8. bottomry,

9. towage,

10. pilotage,

11. delivery of goods or equipment to a vessel for its use or maintenance,

12. building and repair of or delivery of equipment for the vessel,

13. salary or other remuneration to masters and other members of the crew owing to their service onboard,

14. masters’ expenses, including expenses made by consignors, charterers or agents on the account of the vessel or the owner,

15. disputes about the title to a vessel,

16. disputes between joint owners of a vessel regarding the title, possession, use, or income from the vessel, or

17. mortgage on the vessel.

For claims based on circumstances under 1-14 above sister ships may
as a rule be arrested (Chapter 4 section 4 of the Maritime Code).

Thus, the vessel can only be arrested if there is a maritime claim as per above, but the Maritime Code is supplemented by Chapter 15 of the Swedish Code of Legal Proceedings (general requirements for arrests) and other procedural statutes in connection thereto. This means in summary that the claimant must evidence both probable cause for the maritime claim, which is or will be subject to litigation, and that there are reasons to believe that the owner of the vessel may take steps, in one way or the other, to dispose of assets or otherwise avoid enforcement of the future judgement (or arbitral award) for the claim. However, if there is also a maritime lien attached to the maritime claim (as a maritime lien is generally subject to a one year time limit) there are possibilities to obtain arrest of the vessel even if there is nothing to suggest that the owner of the vessel will take steps to avoid the enforcement of the claim (Chapter 3 Section 40 of the Swedish Maritime Code). However, the judgement (or arbitral award) at hand – or to be rendered in due course – for the maritime claim must be enforceable in Sweden. Beside the EU Conventions on enforcement of judgements (Brussels I and Lugano), and the New York convention as concerns arbitral awards, there are no general Swedish enforcement acceptance of foreign judgements.


The claimant’s application for an arrest of a vessel shall be made to one of the nominated Maritime Courts in Sweden or rather to that Maritime Court which is nearest to the vessel. The Court fee for the application is (at present) only SEK 450 and there are possibilities that the claimants may be eventually awarded compensation for legal costs for the arrest.

Of vital practical interest to obtain the arrest is the following:

1. The application must be signed by someone who has authority to do so. This means that the written application must be accompanied by proof of the authorized signatory. Generally, it means that there must be a properly executed power of attorney in original hard copy filed at the Maritime Court before the arrest may be decided.

2. Moreover, the claimant must put up security for the damage, which may be caused to the vessels’ owner in the event that the arrest will be lifted either owing to the fact that the claim will fail due to bad merits or that there will be no proof that the claim itself has not been subject to proper litigation (arbitration) within one month as from the decision of arrest. The latter event must especially be observed in the event that there is no Swedish jurisdiction for the resolution of the maritime claim itself (for instance a valid foreign jurisdiction clause or an agreement for a foreign arbitration) and proof of started litigation/arbitration within one month from the arrest must be produced as soon as possible. The security – to be (initially) approved by the Court and later to be commented by the vessel’s owner – is usually a bank guarantee.

The general procedural rule is the arrest may not be granted before the opponent has been granted the possibility to comment on the application but as concerns arrests of vessels there is usually the required element of urgent risk of withdrawal of the debtor’s sole asset from Swedish jurisdiction allowing an interim arrest until final ruling by the Maritime Court.

After obtaining a court decision for the arrest, that decision must be subject to application to the local bailiff who shall enforce his separate decision to detain the vessel. The arrest may be lifted if sufficient security is provided by the vessel’s owner (Chapter 15 Section 8 of the Swedish Code of Legal Proceedings). If such security has been filed with the actual Maritime Court, which is the legal rule unless the parties have agreed otherwise, that Court has still jurisdiction for the litigation about the claim itself (provided it had jurisdiction for such purposes in the first place).