Law of Navigating High Seas and Understanding the Maritime Law
As a matter of fact, Maritime Law refers to a branch of law relating to commerce as well as navigation on the high seas; as well as on other navigable waters. Specifically, the term refers to the body of customs, legislation, international treaties; also, court decisions pertaining to ownership and operation of vessels, transportation of passengers and cargo on them; as well as rights and obligations of their crews while in transit.
However, the origins of maritime law go back to antiquity. Because no country has jurisdiction over the seas; it has been necessary for nations to reach agreements regarding ways of dealing with ships, and crews; as well as cargoes when disputes arise.
Therefore, the earliest agreements were probably based on a body of ancient customs; that had developed as practical solutions to common problems. Howbeit, many of these customs became part of Roman civil law. After the fall of the Roman Empire; maritime commerce was disrupted for about 500 years.
According to provisions in the U.S. Constitution
Moreover, U.S. maritime law is administered by federal courts that have jurisdiction over all maritime contracts, injuries, offenses; as well as torts. Maritime causes are deemed to be those directly affecting commerce on navigable waters that form a continuous highway to foreign countries.
Nevertheless, in any dispute the fact that commerce is practiced only on waters; within a single state does not necessarily affect the jurisdiction of the federal courts. Many aspects of maritime laws are now governed by federal statutes. However, they are no longer dependent upon the constitutional power of Congress to regulate commerce.
The Scope of Maritime Laws
However, the liability for common-law wrongs is enforced by the maritime laws of the United States as well as the United Kingdom. Maritime torts include all illegal acts or direct injuries arising in connection with commerce as well as navigation occurring on navigable waters; including negligence. Along with the wrongful taking of property. The law permits recovery only for actual damages. Maritime law also recognizes as well as enforces contracts; as well as awards damages for failure to fulfill them.
Moreover, the adjustment of the rights of the parties to a maritime venture in accordance with the principles of general average; which pertain to the apportioning of loss of cargo; is also an important function of maritime courts, and the doctrines pertaining to general average are among the most important of the maritime law. However. the British admiralty courts have acquired jurisdiction by statute over crimes committed on the high seas outside the territorial waters of the United Kingdom.
Nonetheless, similar jurisdiction has been conferred by Congress on the U.S. federal district courts. International agreements have been made to handle the problems of safety at sea, pollution control, salvage, rules for preventing collisions, as well as coordination of shipping regulations.
International Ocean Law
Moreover, some aspects of ocean law affect relationships among nations. Issues of neutrality and belligerency that occur in wartime are dealt with in international law. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea; adopted in 1982. But not yet in force, addresses ocean law issues; including rights of navigation and overflight, fishing, marine scientific research, and seabed minerals development; as well as marine environmental protection.
However, it allows each coastal nation to exercise sovereignty over a territorial sea up to 12 nautical miles; (22 km/14 mi); wide and jurisdiction over resources, and scientific research; as well as environmental protection in an exclusive economic zone up to 200 nautical miles; (370 km/230 mi) offshore; beyond this zone, seabed minerals development will be regulated by an international body.
Moreover, the U.S. has not signed the accord because it objects to the system for minerals development in the international seabed. But it has generally endorsed all other provisions of the convention.
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