Maritime law — also known as admiralty law — is a patchwork of treaties and conventions that governs private maritime business conflicts and other nongovernmental marine matters. Maritime law shouldn’t be confused with the Law of the Sea, which addresses navigational rights, coastal waters jurisdiction and sea mineral claims. All U.S. states, including Louisiana, adhere to maritime law standards since the country is a signatory of the UN treaty enforcing the code.
Jurisdictional governance of maritime law
In most countries, maritime law operates independently from national laws. Instead of federal governments, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a United Nations initiative adopted by 174 member states, serves as the governing body. IMO officers monitor the relevancy of extant conventions and update the code when needed.
Although the IMO has adopted dozens of treaties and standards, four core conventions primarily shape modern maritime law, and each plays a fundamental role in the nautical business landscape. They include:
- The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers
- The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships
- The International Convention on Maritime Labor
- The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea
Common issues governed by maritime law
What types of matters fall under the purview of maritime law? Admiralty law frequently applies in:
- Shipping and cargo insurance claim conflicts
- Piracy incidents
- Ship collisions that occur in international waters
- Licensing and registration matters related to cargo shipments and the carriage of passengers
Maritime law is an essential spoke on the international governance wheel. Every business that maintains cargo and shipping arms should consider the internationally recognized set of standards when crafting procedures and protocols.