maritime law, also known as admiralty law, addresses questions and offenses that relate to the domestic and international usage of the open waters. It fuses domestic law with private international law, and it comprises of treaties, laws and conventions. The law creates governance on international private business and issues that pertains to ships, shipping and crimes that happen on the waters.
Nature of the law
The law that governs maritime activities stands separate from national laws since it has different jurisdiction and codes from the national ones. The United Nations has in place a treaty that lists down the rules and conventions that make up the admiralty law. Through International Maritime Organization, the UN has set several conventions that coast guards and navies from member countries to the treaty can enforce.
The admiralty law offers oversight on insurance claims that arise from ship and cargo matters as well as civil matters between seamen, passengers and ship owners. Additionally, the law regulates the licensing registration and inspection of ships and contracting of shipping services, insurance and transportation of passengers and goods. Essentially, the law covers all shipping activities and matters that arise from the activities.
The International Maritime authority came to life in 1958, and it has a responsibility of updating the existing conventions, and creating new ones when a need rises. The conventions fundamentally address safety on the open waters, and prevention of pollution from vessels. It also takes into consideration training, certification and watch-keeping for seafarers. One of the factors that necessitate an updating of the conventions is the advancement of business practices and technology.
The governments of member countries to the IMO treaty have a mandate to enforce the conventions. Local governments provide oversight on their own ships, and penalize the ships that infringe the conventions. Sometimes ships should have a certificate on-board that denotes confirmations to the set maritime standards and inspection requirements.
Nationality of Ships
Registration of a ship determines its nationality. However, some ship owners take advantage of tax leniency in other countries and register their ship from those countries. Such a registry carries a tag “flags of convenience”.
maritime law vests ship owners and passengers or workers with some responsibilities that focuses of their own being and the liability of the owner. It creates guidelines on the role of all stakeholders during a shipping activity. It also addresses the obligations of the stakeholders during a court case.