Maritime Law, or the admiralty law, as it is also sometimes called, is known as one of the most established and oldest types of law in general. Maritime law covers rules that are used in governing tort, contract, marine commerce, shipping, ships, as well as worker compensation claims. It can also cover topics such as salvage, towage, maritime contracts, maritime liens, maritime injuries and marinas.
There are numerous other topics that are covered by maritime laws; however, there are some that are quite interesting. Laws on the navigable waters are different from the laws in the cities. For example, under international laws, it is stated that when property is lost on the water and is found by someone else, the finder has the right to claim a salvage award for the property that he or she has retrieved. In the case of a ship being damaged on water which leads to cargo being lost, the shipping company can be asked to pay money to the finders for the cargo they retrieved. The salvage award is commonly less than half of the value of the salvaged property.
Towage is one important aspect of the transportation of products in many countries. In towage, there are two boats involved, namely the tugboat and the towboat. The towboat is the boat that pushes a barge full of products, goods or cargo. The towboat, on the other hand, is the one that pulls it. The contract of towage refers to the contract wherein the owner of the tugboat or the towboat states that he or she agrees to tow the goods. This contract is then covered by maritime contract rules. In most countries, a contract in towage does not need to be written or in black and white but putting it in writing is usually a good idea. Most of these contracts of towage state that reasonable care must be practiced in towing the goods.
Nearly all of the seafaring nations of the world accept most broad maritime law topics. However, there are still some nations wherein international laws conflict with their individual laws. The admiralty law which states that the flag which is flown by a particular ship dictates which nation’s law will be followed is accepted by nearly all of these nations. To illustrate, let us take a ship sailing in a Grecian sea while flying an American flag. In this case, the ship will follow the American admiralty laws.
Maritime law in the United States is dictated by the Article Three of the United States Constitution. This makes its laws enforceable by the federal court system of the United States. Other countries, such as New Zealand and India, pass their maritime legal cases to higher courts while England, at one time, had special courts where only admiralty cases were heard. In the present time, however, maritime legal cases in England are now also heard in their high courts.