What is Maritime Law?

A person’s location directly affects which laws are applicable to his actions. Different countries have their own set of regulations and penalties for different kinds of offenses. There are separate laws that determine people, organizations, or operatives on lands, in the air, or on the seas.

What is Maritime Law?

Maritime Law Introduction:

Maritime Law, which is also known as Admiralty Law, refers to particular conventions, laws, and treaties that oversee all the nautical matters. It’s a regulatory body that thoroughly governs private maritime business matters. Accidents, injuries, or any kind of mishap or offense on recreational boats, yachts, or ships are dealt with through this law. Such laws that govern the overall operations on seas and oceans, concerning the passengers or the sea crew, are called the Law of the Sea. 

What is Maritime Law, and What is its function?

Maritime law governs insurance problems relating to the cargo on ships. It deals with the civil matters between passengers and ship owners and other piracy matters. Maritime law also supervises the inspection, registration, and insurance of ships. 

The United Kingdom is the major provider of legal services to the maritime community. More than 40 law firms function in the sector. English Law is widely applied to disputes occurring on the oceans than any other country’s law. 

International Maritime Organization (IMO) is a body through which the United Nations passes conventions that should be imposed by the navies and coastal guards of signatory countries as per international agreements.  

What Topics Does Maritime Law Cover?

Maritime Law is quite a massive body that covers a range of issues, conventions, and operations. It has a lot of matters to govern, so it might not be possible to enlist each one below. Nevertheless, we can outline some of the core areas that come directly under American Maritime Law. 

  1. Maintenance and Cure

Injuries sustained on oceans were first taken notice of in Article VI of the Rolls of Oléron written in 1160. 

Maritime lawyers often come across admiralty cases that concern accidental injuries on the seas. People on a ship, passengers or the ship staff, are vulnerable to accidentals around the industrial machinery or on decks. Hours of training and years of experience helps in preventing such unfortunate situations from happening, but accidents happen regardless since one can never be too careful.

Lawmakers take notice of such incidents, and consequently, people on ships have the most effective legal protection available. 

This includes the following services:

  • Free medical assistance to injured seamen until they receive the “maximum medical cure” as deemed by the court. 
  • Seamen are compensated if the injury was sustained during work. These monetary benefits are terminated when full recovery is made by the injured seaman. 
  • After an injury, an employee is compensated with respect to his regular living costs. Since all the seamen are allotted their own rooms and boards while they are stationed on the vessels, maintenance cost is paid to annul the costs of housing that the employee pays to receive treatment on the ship. 
  • Maintenance can also be used to reimburse an employee for his mortgage, rents, homeowners’ insurance meals, and property taxes. 
  1. Duty of Reasonable Care to Passengers

A passenger is assured all manners of care according to the duty of care by the owner of the ship who owes the voyagers on board. Failure to oblige by this result would result in a claim imposed by the maritime lawyers against the owner. 

Every passenger has the right to retain protection under the ship owner’s care of duty. No matter the passenger is on a cruise ship, personal ship, or private ship, the owner should ensure that no passenger is harmed in any way. 

Duty of care is breached when a passenger undergoes an injury because of negligence in protective measures or lack of safety on the ship’s premises. 

  1. Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LWHCA) states that injured seaman, who serve in areas of crafting, repairing, loading, and unloading a sea vessel, should be compensated. This act also covers those workers who perform their duties on navigable waters within America. LWHCA ensures that employers properly compensate their wounded workers whenever the injury is sustained during work, requiring vocational rehabilitation, medical care, or leave. 

  1. Maritime Liens, Mortgages, and other Contractual Issues

Maritime disputes are taken to federal courts, unlike the land-based agreements that usually go to civil courts. Mortgage disputes, loan defaults, pollution claims, unpaid carrier claims, maritime tory claims, crew wages, and salvage claims are some protected features that maritime lien encompasses on the vessel. 

  1. Salvage and Treasure

The tales of fiction that you used to read as a kid about discovering treasures are actually a thing of reality in the world of marines. An ordinary day at the sea can turn into a thrilling adventure when the ruins of a shipwreck are found. 

The Law of Savage outlines such a situation, stating rewards to the person, aka salvor, who helps a vessel in trouble by risking his own safety. This law is applicable if the ship is submerged into the water if the vessel is struggling to stay functional. 

The salvor is responsible for surrendering the contents of the vessel to the rightful owner as long as the owner compensates him for his help. 

The Law of Finds is another set of laws that is applicable when a shipwreck is discovered. Pertaining to the law of finds, a discoverer who finds the whereabouts of a shipwreck is entitled to all of the goods recovered. 

This is different than the law of Salvage, which entitles the salvor to a percentage of the recovered goods but not all the goods. 


This article is intended to give you an insight into what a Maritime law actually is and how it’s applied. Since even the most basic legal matters can get quite stressful and complicated, hence an overview of the most common maritime law areas was covered.