Given that obtaining a Rule B Attachment Order is a fast and reasonably cost-effective tactic to obtain security for a maritime claim, it is perhaps surprising that its very existence has to be immediately publicised on the New York Court’s website. This of course permits any party to find out about its existence and is most commonly used by reporters in order to get a good story. But when the security claim is for a significant sum and the party applying for the Attachment Order does not want the commercial dispute to appear as headline news, is there anything that can be done to keep the Rule B Attachment Order confidential?
Previously it has been possible for the Order to be made under seal. However, in recent months, the New York Court has been cutting down on the number of Rule B Attachment Orders made under seal, taking the view that the sealing of orders violates the public’s right to access court records, and is not appropriate in commercial matters (sealing is generally limited to family cases and proceedings involving children).
In one recent application made by this firm, even though the Judge rejected the Order being made under seal, he issued a separate Order in which it was ordered that electronic access to the Court file and to the names of the parties be restricted so that Pacer (the system used for Rule B alerts) would not reveal the parties’ names. This should prevent the Respondents against whom the Attachment is sought from being put on notice, as any searches on the public database system should now not reveal the name of the parties to the Rule B.
This means that it is now possible to seek a separate Order from the New York Court to prevent premature disclosure of the names of the parties involved in the dispute.