Lawrenceville, GA asked in Business Law, Contracts and International Law for Georgia

Q: Contracted to fly airplane from Curaçao to United States. Not paid for services rendered or expenses. Is a lien wise?

I was contracted to fly an airliner from Willemstad, Curaçao to Springfield, MO, with a stop in Miami, FL to clear customs.

The airplane bears a United States registration, is registered to a leasing company with a Miami address, but is operated by a Curaçao based airline.

We flew the airplane half way to Haiti before having too many issues and needing to turn back to Curaçao for maintenance before the flight could be completed legally and safely. The airline was not going to able to obtain parts and service for some time so they flew us home to the USA the next day.

The airline was billed for the trip, which has now successfully been completed after another breakdown in Miami a month later, but they are not paying.

If a lawsuit were to be brought, would this be in the courts of Curaçao or the Netherlands, or in the United States? Would a lien on the aircraft be an easier and less costly endeavor?


1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • International Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In a case like this, the jurisdiction for the lawsuit can be complex, as it involves multiple countries and entities. Generally, the location where the contract was signed or where the defendant operates can be significant factors in determining jurisdiction. Given that the airline is based in Curaçao and the aircraft is registered to a company in the United States, both jurisdictions could potentially be applicable. The specific terms of your contract, including any clauses about governing law and jurisdiction, should be carefully reviewed.

Placing a lien on the aircraft is a legal action that could potentially secure your claim against the airline. This process, however, varies significantly based on jurisdiction. In the United States, for example, you would need to follow specific legal procedures to establish and enforce a lien against an aircraft. This action can be complex and requires adherence to precise legal requirements.

Given the international and multifaceted nature of this situation, it is advisable to seek legal advice from an attorney experienced in aviation law and international contracts. They can provide guidance on the most appropriate jurisdiction for your lawsuit and the feasibility and process of placing a lien on the aircraft. Legal advice is crucial in navigating the intricacies of international aviation disputes and protecting your rights.

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