Maritime law evolved over time from international conventions. It governs the shipping industry, protects workers and regulates injury claims. Maritime law is very different from other types of litigation, including civil and criminal courts. For example, maritime law does not regulate ongoing mortgages and loan defaults. The federal courts have jurisdiction over maritime disputes. The maritime courts also serve as a forum for claims made by maritime employees. Learn more about maritime law in this article.
Maritime law evolved from international conventions
Maritime law was born out of a series of international conventions. The first one was the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, which was held in 1973. Nine years later, in 1982, it was ratified, creating what is now known as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. During this time, representatives from more than 160 sovereign nations traveled between Geneva and New York, bargaining and trading national rights and obligations.
As maritime trade increased, the Organization created a similar body. This body governed the licensing, construction, inspection, and disposal of hazardous cargo. Maritime insurance was also subject to the same rules. IMO is responsible for maintaining and updating international maritime conventions and developing new agreements when necessary. But the 1948 Convention also had its shortcomings. Some countries were concerned about a lack of protection of the environment and marine pollution. As a result, the IMO had to work to resolve these issues.
The emergence of an international legal framework for the regulation of shipping began in the early 1960s, when the major naval powers were concerned about the passage of oil in narrow straits. The major naval powers sided with the coastal states, insisting on the right of free passage. Maritime law evolved from these international conventions. But despite the benefits of these new laws, it remains incomplete and has some shortcomings. However, maritime law has come a long way from the days when the sea was considered to be uncharted territory.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is responsible for developing new and updating existing conventions governing shipping in international waters. The organization also maintains an extensive database of these conventions, including their historical amendments and explanatory notes. Member states implement and enforce these conventions, which vary by country and the type of shipping involved. Many ships must carry certificates or other documentation that demonstrates compliance with the law. Below are some of the key aspects of maritime law.
The COGSA covers all contracts for carriage of goods by sea and in foreign trade, excluding charter parties, live animals, and certain deck cargo. However, the COGSA limits the amount of liability that a carrier can be held liable for. In addition, COGSA covers the inland portions of carriage of goods under a ‘through bill of lading’. In fact, the US Supreme Court ruled in the case of Norfolk Southern Railway Co v. Kirby that a through bill of lading was a maritime contract, and that it was subject to COGSA limitations even when a rail company was not a party to the bill of lading.
The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) oversees the maritime industry in the United States. It enforces the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution and other federal laws governing shipping. As the governing body for the international ocean transportation system, the FMC’s mission is to maintain a competitive environment for U.S. maritime shipping while protecting the public from unfair trade practices. The FMC’s regulations apply to tariffs, service contracts, NVOCC negotiated rate arrangements, and various other contracts pertaining to the common carriage of goods by ocean transportation.
Regulates injury claims
Injuries sustained aboard a ship may be covered under maritime law, which governs all accidents on navigable bodies of water in the United States. Damages may include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. While many injuries may also occur on land, they generally fall under admiralty jurisdiction. Maritime claims are governed by federal admiralty law, which applies to most cases. Most states must also abide by admiralty law, so if you are injured aboard a vessel, you may be able to pursue a lawsuit in your state.
Maritime law is composed of a patchwork of federal rules, judicial opinions, statutory enactments, and international treaties. The recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is predicted to be the worst oil spill in U.S. history, and the law’s cap on oil pollution doesn’t adequately address bodily injury claims. While maritime law has long provided a legal framework for injury claims, it is only in recent years that it has been implemented.
The Jones Act provides an avenue for injured maritime workers to seek compensation for an accident caused by negligence on the part of their employer. To file a Jones Act claim, a maritime worker must show that negligence by his or her employer contributed to the accident. Common Jones Act injury claims include slips and falls on wet surfaces, assaults by co-workers, and equipment malfunctions or failures. Additionally, a seaman’s right to maintenance and cure – a daily stipend for the treatment of an injury – is also protected under maritime law.
Maritime law recognizes the rights of seamen who are injured while working on dangerous rigs. Under the Jones Act, a maritime employer can be held liable for an employee’s injuries and losses even if the worker was not at fault. This law applies to employees who spend at least 30 percent of their time on navigable waters. This law is not limited to seafarers; it also protects land-based employees from employer negligence.
Not all employees on board vessels are considered seamen, however. For instance, a dockworker may not be considered a seamen, but a bartender working on a fishing ship is likely to be covered under the Jones Act. Maritime workers are also eligible to receive compensation for pre-death medical expenses, funeral costs, and loss of consortium. Additional compensation may be available under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.
Maritime workers are protected by state and federal laws. They are entitled to medical care and lost wages, and the surviving family members of deceased workers may seek benefits. Another piece of maritime law is the Death on the High Seas Act, which provides compensation for a family member whose death occurs three miles off the U.S. coast. Workers also have rights to maintenance and cure from their employers when injured while at sea. It is imperative to seek medical attention in cases of maritime law if you are unsure if you are eligible.
Shifts blame to third parties in cases of clear negligence
Whether the “Both-to-Blame” collision clause in ocean carriers’ bills of lading is fair is a matter of debate. The proposed rule would shift responsibility to third parties for clear negligence in maritime law cases. Many shipowners are opposed to the notion of shifting blame to third parties, arguing that the new rule would be unfair. However, Congress has already provided a framework for tort liability, and a shift in blame to third parties would be consistent with that.
Is enforced by individual signatory nations
The Agreement of London was signed on August 8, 1945 by participating nations. Its purpose was to punish major war criminals of the European Axis. This treaty took over two months to negotiate, and it set in motion a system of justice that reaches all signatory nations. The U.S. had previously refused to sign the treaty, fearing that it would re-establish the status quo.
The process by which international treaties enter into national legislation depends on the individual state. Signatory nations must first become parties by ratification or acceding. Regional integration organizations may also become parties by signing. A signature is considered an accede, whereas signing and ratifying the Optional Protocol is equivalent to ratification. By ratification, the Convention becomes part of national law.