Maritime Law

maritime law

Maritime law is the branch of private and public law dealing with navigation (the legal subjects, means and activities that play a part in the transport of goods or persons by sea) and the ships, crews and services related to it. It includes regulations at international, Community and national level concerning the safety of persons and property at sea, as well as those aimed at ensuring that maritime transport is environmentally friendly and observes rules of free and fair competition.

The main pillar of the law of the sea is the principle espoused by Grotius that the seas are property of states, and therefore that the state has the exclusive right to regulate them for its own uses, without affecting any other state’s freedom to do so. This principle is reflected in the delimitation of the territorial seas.

Another important feature of maritime law is the master’s duties, which are based on the law of salvage and the rules of maritime search and rescue, as interpreted by the International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea and other relevant IMO instruments. In addition, the master of a ship flying a flag of a State is under a duty to render assistance to anyone in distress at sea.

The Jones Act provides seamen or other workers on board vessels who have been injured to sue their employers for compensation. However, it is necessary to prove negligence/unseaworthiness on the part of another party for the claimant to receive damages.

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Cape Town, South Africa