Law of Ship Mortgages

Page 16


Ownership and registration

2.1 Legal ownership

2.1.1 Ships are personal property, the legal ownership of which is governed by the rules of common law as it may be modified by applicable statute. Legal ownership in personal property is based on possession and the person with the superior possessory right has the apparent title to the property.1 Legal ownership in ships may be acquired in the same manner as legal ownership is acquired in other personal property,2 e.g. under a will, by order of a court, by gift, pursuant to contract or by operation of insolvency law. A ship usually will be acquired by contract either as a new ship under a shipbuilding contract between the buyer and the builder or as a second-hand ship under a contract of sale between the owner and the buyer. As will be seen in this chapter, and elsewhere in this book, whether a ship is a registered British ship, a foreign-registered ship or a ship that is not registered at all is fundamentally important in a number of respects to the position of a mortgagee and in relation to proprietary rights generally.

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