Maritime Law

maritime law

Maritime law is the legal system that governs commerce with foreign nations and between the states. Congress regulates admiralty cases under its constitutional power to regulate interstate and international commerce. The Constitution also gives federal courts original jurisdiction over admiralty cases.

The earliest cases on the law of the sea were developed in the Great Lakes during the last decades of the 19th century and early years of the 20th. A prominent Cleveland admiralty attorney of that era was HARVEY GOULDER. He worked on his father’s Great Lakes vessels as a teenager and went to law school at the University of Michigan.

GOULDER was a leading figure in the development of Great Lakes maritime law, but he also played an important role in the formation of national and international maritime law. He was a member of the Committee on Marine Law of the American Bar Association and served on the International Maritime Law Council. He was a delegate to the International Maritime Organization and later an adviser to that organization.

One of the most important developments in maritime law was a decision by the United States Supreme Court in the case of The Jensen v. United States, 375 U.S. 463 (1963). The Court held that contracts made by sailors on board ship are governed by general maritime law and not the laws of the state in which the ship was operating.

The court also reaffirmed the doctrine of “maintenance and cure.” Under this principle, a shipowner is required to provide free of charge all medical care for an injured seaman until the seaman reaches “maximum medical cure.” See Moragne v. United States Marine Lines, 398 U.S. 375 (1970); Miles v. Apex Marine Corp., 498 U.S. 19 (1991).

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