This unique body of law deals with all contracts, torts, offenses or injuries that stem from sea navigation and commerce. It has been shaped by early codes and customary law practices. A maritime law firm is a good choice to assist you with matters related to this legal area.
The principle of the law of nations gives practical form to maritime law through the flag rule, which states that ships are subject to the laws of the state under whose flag they sail. This grants a nation the authority to regulate vessels, as well as to enforce its laws on the high seas — provided that these regulations are in keeping with international rules.
Various international conventions govern maritime activities, particularly in areas such as port state control and marine pollution. These are enforceable by individual member nations, through their local coast guards or their national courts. Disputes regarding these conventions may be heard at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, located in Hamburg.
It has long been settled that admiralty and maritime jurisdiction extends to all navigable waters within a country, including those that are artificial. The Supreme Court has cited many cases to support this assertion, such as The Magnolia, 61 U.S. (20 How.) 296 (1857); The Eagle, 75 U.S. (8 Wall.) 15 (1868); and The Daniel Ball, 77 U.S. (10 Wall.) 557 (1871).
Despite this, it is not uncommon to find that some courts will limit the scope of maritime law by arguing that certain aspects of the law are too broad or unworkable, such as those relating to seamans’ rights to maintenance and cure or their right to file claims under maritime law. Those arguments are generally dismissed by those who believe that Congress has a constitutional power to modify maritime law, as illustrated by the four justices who dissenting in Southern Pacific Co. v. Jensen, 244 U.S. 205, 215 (1917).