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Relative Priority of Maritime Liens, 33 Yale Law Journal 841 (1924)


This is a plea for the adoption of the broad generalization laid down in The Bold Buccleugh, that all maritime liens, from whatever source arising, are to be paid in the inverse order of their accrual. It was said in that case that "This rule which is simple and intelligible, is in our opinion applicable to all cases." Yet though The Bold Buccleugh has been approved in principle both by the House of Lords and by our own Supreme Court, the generalization logically deducible from that principle has not been formally adopted by either of those high tribunals. The result is that much uncertainty still exists in the decisions and the textbooks as to the underlying principle controlling priorities among maritime liens. An exception to the above generalization should probably be made in favor of liens for mariners' wages, not only for the traditional and sentimental reasons intimated in the John G. Stevens, but on the more solid ground that such liens cannot be treated as secret liens since everybody knows that mariners are not paid in advance. Local rules for arbitrarily determining what liens for supplies and repairs shall be deemed contemporaneous, and so of equal rank, are also excepted.

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