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Maritime Law

Interestingly, modern maritime law combines some of the most ancient seafaring norms with fresh rules that have become necessary as the sector has evolved. Maritime law has handled issues including insurance, rescue, and the safety of ship crews since the dawn of time.

Ships needed permission to travel between ports with a reasonable expectation of safety and fair trade in order for trade to develop. Local courts and tribunals were skewed due to differing practices. Consequently, it became obvious that conflicts needed to be resolved through a single judicial system.

It was at this time that maritime law was first documented to meet an urgent need in the developed world.

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What is the concept of maritime law?

Maritime law is a combination of laws, agreements, and treaties. It is also known as admiralty law. It regulates open water offenses, shipping, and other maritime activities. The Law of the Sea refers to international regulations that control how the oceans and seas are used.

What is an example of maritime law?

The goal of maritime law is to regulate local, international, and private nautical affairs. These regulations protect injured maritime employees and give them the right to sue for compensation and other benefits.

Below are some examples:

  1. It is possible that an employer failed to give the deceased employee enough medical care or that they weren't given the right medical training. An employee may have died as a result of a vessel sinking or explosion.
  2. A cruise ship guest may file a lawsuit if a broken stair rail causes them to break their arm. In contrast to the usual three years that passengers on other ships would have, they might only have a year as a cruise ship passenger to launch their claim.
  3. For onboard injuries, ship owners are expected to offer "maintenance and cure," which includes medical attention and living expenses until the sailor is able to resume duty.

What is the importance of maritime laws?

The majority of maritime law deals with issues like shipping commodities by sea, regulations for protecting and maintaining ships while they are at sea, ship registration and damage, marine insurance, etc.

Accordingly, some of the important subjects covered in any maritime law course include:

  • contract of carriage such as bill of lading & charter party agreement
  • incidents of navigation that are collision and salvage/towage
  • marine insurance that includes marine policy, insurable interest & indemnity)
  • marine pollution deals with liability claims, environment protection, public law regime, and natural resource conservation.

The Law of the Sea also establishes the following:

  • general guidelines for maritime zones
  • rules for mining
  • the exploitation of natural resources
  • resolution of disputes
  • boundary disputes
  • disputes over the exploitation of resources
  • piracy
  • jurisdictional claims
  • issues with hot pursuit, etc.

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What are the four pillars of maritime law?

The International Maritime Organization or IMO is the agency responsible for developing worldwide standards for the international maritime sector's policies and practices. Together with the International Labour Organization (ILO), it has developed four important conventions to enhance maritime environment protection and life safety. The four foundations of international marine law are these conventions. As follows:

  1. SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea)

The SOLAS convention now has 14 chapters, which include a variety of rules and codes outlining the minimal safety requirements for things like:

  • Construction of vessels
  • Shipbuilding
  • Tools and construction
  • Risk-management techniques
  1. MARPOL (The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships)

There are six technical annexes to MARPOL that deal with preventing pollution from ships. This encompasses pollution of the air, the land, and the water.

  1. STCW (Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping)

All crew members and ships with a length of more than 24 meters must adhere to the STCW regulations. These regulations specify the minimum educational qualifications for seafarers on board a ship, such as officers, masters, and watch staff.

  1. MLC (Maritime Law Convention)

A comprehensive treaty that outlines the basic working and living conditions for mariners is the MLC 2006. This includes, among other things, their employment contracts, compensation, leave rights, required amount of sleep or rest hours, career and skill advancement, and repatriation.

What is the difference between maritime law and common law?

Maritime law

Common law

Maritime law courts conduct the trials without any jury.

In common law court trials, both the judge and jury listen to the pieces of evidence and decide the guilty of the person.

Previously, maritime law only extended to the tidal waters off the coast of the United States, but recently its range has expanded to include all navigable waters within those borders.

Common laws are famous for being fast, more adaptable, and more responsive. Common laws frequently respond to rapidly evolving societal challenges, cultural norms, and other changes.


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What are the characteristics of maritime law?

  1. International Presence

In nearly all jurisdictions, marine law is clearly influenced by international factors, particularly international agreements, although being largely governed by national legislation. This is because shipping involves international relations by its very nature.

  1. Depth of exposure

The breadth of marine law is the second crucial feature. Similar to how civil law and common law are complete legal systems, maritime law is a full-fledged body of law. Maritime law, incidentally, predates the common law significantly and likely developed around the same time as civil law. It is clear from looking at maritime law's constituent sections that it is a comprehensive body of legislation.

  1. Specific Legal Terms

The study of maritime law frequently makes use of intricate vocabulary that, for the most part, is foreign to other disciplines of law. It may frequently be challenging to comprehend the topic matter without initially understanding such shipping phrases. This area of law's distinct growth may be what led to the diversity of jargons that are exclusive to it.

  1. Charter party

A charter party is an agreement under which a ship is leased in whole or in part for a specific voyage or for a long or short period of time.

  1. Maritime liens

A secured claim made against a ship, and occasionally cargo or bunkers, for services rendered to the vessel or harm it caused.

  1. Commonplace

The financial obligation was placed on a ship and cargo-owners, or their respective insurers, in exchange for typical expenditures and sacrifices. Depending on the relevant country, either a maritime lien or a statutory right in rem serves as security for cargo's claim for average general contributions against the ship.

  1. Recover

They are providing support to ships in need. Various maritime nations have traditionally set rules for how to award such assistance.

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