Salvage & Recovery
U.S. Open Form Salvage Agreement (MARSALV)
Hopefully you will never find yourself in the position to be in need of salvage services, but if you do you may be presented with paperwork to sign either before or after the event. Sea Tow endorses the use of the U.S. Open Form Salvage Agreement, also known as the MARSALV (view MARSALV PDF). There are other similar forms out there, but this is the form recognized by the Society of Maritime Arbitrators. www.smany.org.
Why does Sea Tow use the MARSALV? The MARSALV does not turn a situation into salvage, what it does is set the terms for payment to the salvor, provides criteria or fixing a salvage award and in the case of a dispute, mandates arbitration between the parties instead of Federal Court which is the proper venue for admiralty claims.
When presented with a MARSALV we suggest that you read it carefully and ask the salvor as many questions as you like. Ensure that all terms of your payment agreement are captured on the documents and ensure that both you and the salvor initial everything that is written in and sign at the bottom. Most important, make sure you take a copy of any rate sheets you may agree to and a copy of the signed MARSALV.
If time allows and you have insurance on your vessel, you should attempt to get pre-approval from your insurance company before you sign anything. If you find yourself in a salvage situation, but you do not feel comfortable signing anything, then don’t. In cases where there is not a signed agreement, the salvor may still seek the salvage award, but if there is a dispute, it will be settled in Federal Court, which typically proves to be much more expensive and a much longer process than arbitration.