Maritime Secret Law
Maritime liens are ancient encumbrances on vessels under Admiralty Law to enforce the payment of debts. Merchants and governments like admiralty law because it provides less rights to a debtor than the common law. Because ships can sail out of a jurisdiction, the merchants needed swift execution to collect debts. Therefore a creditor can have a vessel arrested by the police without any proof that the debt exists and without filing the lien. This is called an "in rem" action, in which the vessel or its cargo is seized without any proof. The creditor does not have to prove that the debt is owed unless someone files a counterclaim in a court. Thus a Notice of Lien can be sent to an alleged debtor without any proof or any filing. The courts have termed this a "secret lien" because it is not filed anywhere.
The UNITED STATES is the only government that enforces admiralty law inland. This law was initiated during the Civil War to confiscate property owned by enemies of the UNITED STATES government. The UNITED STATES is also the only government that has codified maritime liens into statutes, which is Title 46, Chapter 313. The secret lien is codified in 46 USC 31342. Maritime liens have a higher priority than all other liens. Their priority over statutory liens is stated in 46 USC 31307. Priority over common law liens is stated in 46 USC 31326. There are lists of lien priorities in the documents below, but we do not know the source of those lists. However, mortgage liens, IRS tax liens and other government liens are listed at the lowest priority.
Recorded maritime liens take priority over unrecorded liens and are called preferred maritime liens. The responsibility to record maritime liens is delegated to the UNITED STATES COAST GUARD. They have forms and instructions on their web site. But since there are no requirements for filing a maritime lien, and no proof required, one can provide the public a Notice of Claim of Maritime Lien by recording it with the county or with the Secretary of State or recording it on a UCC1.
It is not possible to arrest people for statutory offenses under the common law. The government is operating under Admiralty law when they arrest 'persons' for statutory offenses. This is considered an 'in rem' action against a vessel. All bankruptcy seizures are also considered 'in rem' actions. Thus the title of the court case "In re Maxwell" means it is in rem. Therefore, it is considered that bank foreclosures, traffic tickets and other government arrests are only "notices of interest" or "notices of lien" based on secret maritime liens that have no proof and are rebuttable with a counterclaim. Therefore a recorded maritime lien would be a valid counterclaim as an affirmative defense against those "notices of interest". Enforcement of maritime liens is discussed in 28 USC 1602 to 1611, which is the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act. Since a "person" is defined as a "foreign state" and owner of a vessel, these statutes describe daily life in the UNITED STATES.
The controlling court case that defines the priority of liens is: UNITED STATES v. ONE 254 FT. FREIGHTER, 570 F. Supp. 413 (E.D.La. 08/11/1983)
The most quoted reference that defines a vessel as a person in admiralty jurisdiction is: G. Gilmore & C. Black, The Law of Admiralty p:586-89 (2d ed. 1975)
He defines a vessel as a person and it is also common language in the dictionary and the Bible. Vessel is defined in the US Code at 1 USC 3. Black's Law Dictionary 8th Addition says the definition of vessel is very broad. The standard dictionary defines vessel as "a person as an agent or holder of something".
Here are a list of documents that are useful for learning about maritime liens.
Businessmen's Guide to Maritime Liens This includes forms and instructions for filing liens on vessels
UNITED STATES COAST GUARD Lien Forms The USCG web site
Mortgage Lien Form This is the only form provided by USCG. It is only for Mortgages, but it could be modified
Notice of Claim of Lien Instructions quoted from 46 CFR 67.250
Claim of Lien Bank Note JHD Instructions quoted from 46 CFR 67.250
Claim of Lie HOME JHD Instructions quoted from 46 CFR 67.250
Secret Liens This is a memorandum on secret liens.
Maritime Liens in the Conflict of Law Lien enforcement in UK and US. Lien priorities.
46 USC 31321 Recording Commercial Instruments Instructions for recording notes, BOE's and checks
46 USC 31342 Establishing a Lien The statute that codifies a maritime lien
46 USC 31343 Recording Liens Instructions for recording a maritime lien
Enforcement of Liens 28 USC 1605 Enforcing maritime liens against vessels owned by foreign states
Foreign Sovereign Immunity 1603 Def Immunity of foreign states from US courts unless participating in commerce in the UNITED STATES
Invisible Contracts by George Mercier