Top Rated Maritime Attorneys by Attorney at Law Magazine
Find Top Maritime Attorneys by State
About Maritime Law/Cruise Law
Maritime law (also known as admiralty law) is the body of law that governs nautical issues and private maritime disputes as well as offenses occurring on open water.
What Does a Maritime Lawyer Do?
Maritime lawyers work with clients to oversee insurance claims related to a client’s ships and/or cargo. They also deal with issues that may arise between shipowners, their employees and passengers. Maritime attorneys also work with clients on the registration, licensing and inspection procedures for their ships. They also draft contracts for clients and litigate any issues that may arise from a contract dispute.
Maritime lawyers work with clients on both shipping and passenger ships.
The International Maritime Organization
The United Nations founded the International Maritime Organization in 1948 to establish a permanent international body that established international regulations followed by all shipping nations to improve the safety of the sea. The organization met for the first time in 1959. The United States of America became a member in 1950. There are currently 174 member states.
This body has drafted certain regulations to help navigate international law when it comes to shipping.
For private and commercial shipping matters, Article III of the Constitution granted jurisdiction to the U.S. federal courts over maritime matters. While the federal courts have jurisdiction, maritime cases can be heard in either state or federal courts.
There are five cases which must be brought before the federal courts: limitation of shipowner’s liability; vessel arrests in rem; property arrests quasi in rem; salvage cases; and petitory and possession actions.
If a case is brought before a state court, the court must still adhere to admiralty and maritime law even if it is in conflict with state law. Similarly, the Supplemental Admiralty Rules take precedence over the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure if the two conflict.
The flag a ship sails under determines the body of law to which they are subjected. For example, a ship sailing under the American flag in Chinese waters is subject to American maritime law. Similarly, a ship sailing under the Chinese flag in American waters is subject to Chinese maritime laws. The crew aboard the ships is similarly held to those laws when a crime or other dispute arises.
The flag must be legitimately flown.
Why Do You Need a Maritime Law or Cruise Law Attorney?
Maritime law is a very specific niche practice which adheres to different bodies of law including state, federal and international. Maritime lawyers are well-versed in how these different bodies of law interact and how to navigate complex legal issues that may arise.