The Difference Between Maritime and Common Law

Both maritime law and common law are important to understand. 

The Difference Between Maritime and Common Law

While understanding maritime laws would help you if you’re a frequent sea traveler, common laws can quickly respond to unforeseen cases and situations that were not previously anticipated by legislators. Since it’s hard for parliaments to legislate for every possible issue, common laws can be helpful to examine and develop responses to events in real life. 

What is Maritime Law? 

The private law pertaining to ships and the nautical businesses of shipping is called a Maritime Law. Also called Admiralty Law, this is a body that legally governs the operations on the sea. It sees the insurance, registration, and inspection of ships while also dealing the civil matters revolving around the owners of ships and the passengers. 

A maritime law oversees any kind of unfortunate accident, or injury of a seaman on a ship, keeping in consideration the time, area, precautionary measures, and nature of work when the accident occurred to assess the right compensation for the injured.

The vast scope of maritime law also encapsulates issues concerning the matters of privately owned boats. This also takes account in the recreational trips of families and friends. Moreover, it also deals with problems that are encountered by harbor workers, seamen, stevedores, longshoremen, anyone who’s affected by ships. 

What is Common Law?

An unwritten body of laws that are primarily based on judicial precedents is known as Common Law. Common Laws are applied to cases when the results cannot be determined with written law regulations or current law.   

The objective of Common law is to represent past decisions made by the courts that become binding examples. Its purpose is to set a standard of interpretation of statutes in order to prevent the courts from repeating the facts and proceedings that are similar. Common law decisions are significant because they involve the obscurity of some specific single statutes and are able to offer solutions to conflicts among statutes. 

Common Law vs Maritime Law –– What the Difference?

The major difference between a maritime law court and a common law court would be the fact that admiralty law courts conduct trials without any jury. The admiralty judges only apply the maritime laws, whereas the common law is not restricted to only one aspect of law.  

Another key difference lies in the fact that maritime law used to be applied to American tidal waters formerly. But currently, its jurisdiction has broadened, and it now has extended to those regions of water that are navigable within the boundaries of Unites States, irrespective of the fact whether they’re used for interstate commerce or foreign commerce.  

Common laws are also known for their faster, more flexible, and more responsive nature. Common laws often react quickly to changing social issues, community expectations, and other rapid changes. 

Common laws also offer clarity, frequently expand, and implement legislation. A significant role is played by the judges in common law legal systems. They examine the specific facts and of each case, administer the law in line with their findings, and interpret relevant legislation. 


It’s always wise to be aware of legal matters, especially when you have a business to run. Thoroughly expound on the different laws that relate to your business or your situation, and prepare yourself before a calamity strikes.