Maritime law is the body of law that regulates the conduct of seafarers. It covers a broad range of factual scenarios, from commercial accidents involving ships and cargo to seamen’s injuries and hazardous material spills.
The roots of maritime law are in historical customs and agreements dating back centuries. The public international law of the sea is based mainly on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which has been in force since 1982.
There are seven major topical areas in maritime law: underlying principles, jurisdictions, fishery resources, mineral resources, marine science and technology, environmental protection, and dispute settlement.
* The Seaworthiness of a Vessel:
The ship’s seaworthiness is a key factor in determining whether the vessel will be able to carry cargo throughout its voyage. This includes the vessel’s physical condition, its equipment, and the nature of the cargo being transported.
* The cargo’s hazardous nature:
Maritime law recognizes a heightened standard for the transport of hazardous cargo, such as oil or other flammable materials. This is because of the environmental impact of a spill or other disaster.
* The vessel’s latent defect:
Despite the heightened standard for transporting hazardous cargo, Wonsild breached its obligation to ensure that the vessel would be seaworthy throughout its voyage because the company did not repair a major damage to the vessel. This was a breach of contract that triggered the in rem action.