Maritime law, also known as admiralty or shipping law, is the body of private law that governs navigation and shipping. This law is based on the principles of the freedom of navigation and a country’s exclusive jurisdiction over ships that fly their flag.
The judicial origins of maritime law derive from English and American colonial courts. Those courts were originally designed to rule on disputes arising out of trade on the sea.
This has led to a wide variety of issues that fall within the scope of maritime law. These matters include breaches of charter parties and contracts, collisions, demurrage, forfeitures, general averages, insurance, personal injuries, property damage, seamen’s wages, salvage rights, and a host of other claims.
Generally, maritime law must be interpreted in light of national laws and international conventions. However, there are a number of exceptions to this principle.
In the United States, for example, most maritime cases are heard in federal court. In addition, some maritime claims are not subject to state law and must be brought in admiralty court, which is a separate judicial district from the other courts.
Those who are injured as a result of their work on the sea or at ports, docks, or shipyards have federal protection under the Jones Act. This means that they can file a claim against their employer for compensation if their injury was caused by the negligence of others. It is important to note that this protection applies to all types of maritime workers, not just those who operate ships and boats.