A thorny legal battle involving a Florida man, a British yacht builder, a yacht distributor and a boat broker prompted a U.S. district judge to order marshals to place the 74-foot yacht at the center of the dispute under arrest. Arrests are sometimes ordered under maritime law to prevent the parties involved in a legal dispute from using a contested vessel. Marshals arrived to execute the arrest on Nov. 3 shortly after the close of the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.
The Wellington resident who initiated the contract dispute says that he paid $4 million to have the yacht built. He has not been able to take delivery of the yacht or secure a refund because the British yacht builder is mired in a legal battle of its own with one of its former dealers over an engine failure. This is a problem for the man because he placed his order with, and paid his money to, the dealer involved in that legal action.
The builder says that it has not been paid for the yacht and has advised the man to pursue civil remedies against the dealer. The dealer says that it paid the builder $3.8 million and has demanded the yacht's release. The arrested yacht will be stored at an undisclosed location until the dispute is resolved, according to media reports.
Attorneys with experience in this area may seek to avoid disputes like this one by ensuring that contracts involving the payment of large sums of money are clear and explicit. Attorneys might also advise their clients to insist on penalty clauses that require compensation to be paid to innocent parties in the event of a breach. Before agreements are signed, attorneys may make efforts to ensure that the parties are not involved in legal proceedings that could impact their ability to meet their responsibilities.