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Maritime Law


Admiralty Law, or Maritime Law, is a legal body that manages maritime issues and private maritime disputes. It consists of both domestic law on maritime activities and private international law governing relations between private individuals operating or using ships sailing to the seas and oceans.

It is the discipline that specifies the rules in the definition and determination of the territorial water, continental shelf and water areas in which the states have exclusive sovereign rights, and places the use of the seas that have gained international status within the framework of these rules.

Maritime Law

The sharing of the seas and oceans between states, all activities and crimes committed there are also covered by the law of the sea.

Maritime Law; It is a sub-branch of International law that deals with legal issues regarding the use of marine and ocean waters.

The application of international maritime law covers states parties as in other international instruments. In terms of the peace of all the states of the world, the rules that are not open to interpretation must be strictly observed.

While each legal jurisdiction has its own legislation governing maritime matters, the international nature of the issue and the need for uniformity has led to important international maritime law developments, including numerous multilateral treaties since 1900.

The seas and oceans are used not only for transportation but also for economic purposes. Fishing, underground natural resources etc. as in uses.

The Maritime Law can be distinguished from the Law of the Sea as a public international law body that deals with navigation rights, mining rights, jurisdiction over coastal waters, and maritime relations between nations.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea has been adopted by 167 countries and the European Union, and disputes are being resolved at the ITLOS court in Hamburg.

Maritime Law; It can be divided into two as Maritime Public Law and Maritime Private Law. Maritime private law is divided into many branches within itself. As a sub-branch of Private Maritime Law, regulations regarding commercial activities carried out by sea constituted on the subject of Maritime Trade Law.

Care and Treatment

The obligation to “remediate” is that a shipowner gets the seafarer “maximum medical treatment”. The concept of “maximum medical treatment” is broader than the concept of “maximum medical recovery”. The obligation to “improve” a seafarer includes the obligation to provide medicines and medical devices that enhance their ability to function, even if they do not “improve” their actual situation. It may include long-term treatments that keep it working. Common examples include prostheses, wheelchairs, and pain relievers.

The “maintenance” obligation requires the shipowner to cover basic living expenses while a seafarer is recovering. Once a seafarer is able to work, he is expected to protect himself. As a result, a seafarer may lose his right to care while his duty to care remains.

A seafarer who needs to sue a shipowner for maintenance and rehabilitation may also recover his lawyer’s fees. Vaughan v. Atkinson, 369 U.S. 527 (1962). If the breach of a shipowner’s obligation to provide maintenance and improvement is intentional and unreasonable, the shipowner may suffer criminal damages. Atlantic Sounding Co. – Townsend, 557 U.S. 404 (2009) (J. Thomas).

Personal Passenger Injuries

Shipowners have an obligation to take reasonable care of passengers. As a result, passengers injured on ships can carry the case ashore as if injured by the negligence of a third party. The passenger is obliged to prove that the matter is caused by the shipowner’s negligence.

Maritime Liens and Mortgages

Contributing to the purchase of ships, lending banks, vendors supplying necessities such as fuel and storage to ships, seafarers with salaries due to be paid, and many more are entitled to foreclosure against the ship in proportion to the official receivable to secure the payment. In order for the confiscation to be executed, the ship must be arrested or formally seized.

Rescue and Treasure recovery

In the event that the property is lost at sea and saved by someone else, the rescuer is entitled to claim a salvage reward for the salvaged property. There is no in “life saving”. All seafarers have a duty to save the lives of others in danger without anticipation of reward. Consequently, salvage law only applies to the rescue of property.

There are two types of recovery: contracted recovery and merit-based recovery only. In contract rescue, the owner and rescuer enter into a rescue contract before the rescue operations begin, and the amount the rescuer will be paid is determined by the contract. The most common recovery contract is called “Lloyd’s Open Form Recovery Contract”.

In merit-based rescue there is no contract between the owner and the rescuer. Relationship is one that the law implies. The rescuer of the property under full salvage must bring the salvage request to the court; it is judged based on the “merit” of the rescue service and the value of the property recovered.

These rescue demands are divided into “high order” and “low order” rescue. In high-order rescue, the rescuer exposes himself and his crew to the risk of injury and equipment loss or damage to recover the damaged ship. Getting on board onto a sinking ship in heavy weather, a ship on fire, towing an already sunken ship or boat, or a ship drifting off shore are examples of high-grade rescue. In low-grade rescue, it occurs where the rescuer is exposed to little or no personal risk. Examples of low-level rescue include towing another ship in calm seas, fueling a ship, or salvaging a grounded ship in the sandy surface. Rescuers with high recovery demand receive significantly more recovery rewards than those with low recovery demand.

In both high and low rank salvage, the amount of salvage reward first depends on the value of the saved property. If nothing is saved or additional damage is inflicted, no reward will be awarded. Other factors to consider are the skills of the rescuer, the danger to the rescued property, the value of the property at risk in affecting the rescue, the amount of time and money spent on the rescue operation, etc.

A merit recovery award rarely exceeds 50 percent of the value of the property recovered. The exception to this rule is treasury recovery. Since the sunken treasure is usually lost hundreds of years ago, the rescuer or finder usually takes most of the property’s value, even if the original owner or the insurer continues to deal with the treasure if the ship is insured.

Due to improvements to side-scan sonars, many ships that were previously unavailable are now located, and treasure recovery is a less risky endeavor than in the past, although still highly speculative and expensive.

International Conventions

Prior to the mid-1970s, most international conventions concerning maritime trade and commerce originated in a private organization of maritime lawyers known as the Comité Maritime International (International Maritime Committee or CMI). Founded in 1897, the CMI was responsible for the drafting of numerous international conventions including the Hague Rules (International Convention on Bills of Lading), the Visby Amendments (amending the Hague Rules), the Salvage Convention and many others. While the CMI continues to function in an advisory capacity, many of its functions have been taken over by the International Maritime Organization, which was established by the United Nations in 1958 but did not become truly effective until about 1974.

The IMO has prepared numerous international conventions concerning maritime safety including the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), the Standards for Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping (STCW), the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (Collision Regulations or COLREGS), Maritime Pollution Regulations (MARPOL), International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue Convention (IAMSAR) and others. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) defined a treaty regarding protection of the marine environment and various maritime boundaries. Restrictions on international fishing such as International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling also form part of the body of conventions in international waters. Other commercial conventions include the “International Convention relating to the Limitation of the Liability of Owners of Sea-Going Ships”, Brussels, 10 October 1957 and International Convention for Safe Containers.

Once accepted, most international conventions are enforced by signatory countries either through Port State Controls or through their national courts. Cases under the EMSA of the European Union can be heard by CJEU in Luxembourg. On the contrary, disputes regarding Maritime Law can be resolved at ITLOS in Hamburg, provided that the parties sign UNCLOS.


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