What Is Maritime Law?

Maritime Law is a vast area of law that encompasses a wide variety of issues. It includes shipping accidents, oil spills, injured seamen or passengers, and lots of other issues.

Founded all the way back to Ancient Egypt, maritime law was an answer to the need for a robust and impartial entity to provide fair trade practices on international voyages. This was a necessary step in making the world a safer place for sailors, their families, and ships.

The legal framework for maritime law dates all the way back to ancient times and has evolved over time to cover a multitude of claims. These include the registration of vessels, licensing, regulations, contracts, crime, insurance, inspections, and civil issues.

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) has been ratified by 167 countries, and is the governing body for international maritime law. It governs navigational rights, mineral rights, jurisdiction over coastal waters, and the relationships between nations on the sea.

Admiralty Courts – Limitation and Petitory Actions

Unlike other types of law, admiralty courts have been established to exercise jurisdiction over all activities conducted on the high seas or navigable waters. Those actions can take a number of forms, including the petition for limitation, the motion to compel an owner to give up a vessel’s title, the motion for possession, or the application for salvage awards.

Personal Injury & Wrongful Death

The legal framework for personal injury and wrongful death on a ship is governed by different laws in each state, depending on where the accident occurred. If the death occurs in state waters, the personal injury law of that state applies; if the death happens on navigable waters, the death on the high seas act will apply.

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