Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Maritime Law Definition:

A specialized body of law particular to transportation by water.

Related Terms: Admiralty, Anchorage, Court of Admiralty, Vessel

A very specific body of law peculiar to ships and disputes arising from their use.

Synonymous with admiralty law, marine law or shipping law. In Renew v United States, Justice Barrett of the District Court of Georgia wrote:

"[T]here is no strain in giving to the language "a proceeding in admiralty" a meaning equivalent to any proceeding in the maritime law."

In Maritime Law, authors Gold, Chircop and Kindred stated that maritime law covers:

"... the origins and life of a ship. This includes  the rights and responsibilities of those who have an interest in such a ship, whether involved in financing, securing, owning, managing, operating, provisioning and supplying, navigating, using its services or servicing it in any way, or regulating it, as well as those who are affected or injured by its operations."

This tradition of defining maritime law expansively is also reflected in statute such as this salvo from ¶22 of Canada's Federal Courts Act (version 2007)

"The Federal Court has concurrent original jurisdiction, between subject and subject as well as otherwise, in all cases in which a claim for relief is made or a remedy is sought under or by virtue of Canadian maritime law or any other law of Canada relating to any matter coming within the class of subject of navigation and shipping, except to the extent that jurisdiction has been otherwise specially assigned.

ocean"Without limiting the generality of (the above), for greater certainty, the Federal Court has jurisdiction with respect to all of the following:

  • any claim with respect to title, possession or ownership of a ship or any part interest therein or with respect to the proceeds of sale of a ship or any part interest therein;
  • any question arising between co-owners of a ship with respect to possession, employment or earnings of a ship;
  • any claim in respect of a mortgage or hypothecation of, or charge on, a ship or any part interest therein or any charge in the nature of bottomry or respondentia for which a ship or part interest therein or cargo was made security;
  • any claim for damage or for loss of life or personal injury caused by a ship either in collision or otherwise;
  • any claim for damage sustained by, or for loss of, a ship including, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, damage to or loss of the cargo or equipment of, or any property in or on or being loaded on or off, a ship;
  • any claim arising out of an agreement relating to the carriage of goods on a ship under a through bill of lading, or in respect of which a through bill of lading is intended to be issued, for loss or damage to goods occurring at any time or place during transit;
  • any claim for loss of life or personal injury occurring in connection with the operation of a ship including, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, any claim for loss of life or personal injury sustained in consequence of any defect in a ship or in her apparel or equipment, or of the wrongful act, neglect or default of the owners, charterers or persons in possession or control of a ship or of the master or crew thereof or of any other person for whose wrongful acts, neglects or defaults the owners, charterers or persons in possession or control of the ship are responsible, being an act, neglect or default in the management of the ship, in the loading, carriage or discharge of goods on, in or from the ship or in the embarkation, carriage or disembarkation of persons on, in or from the ship;
  • any claim for loss of or damage to goods carried in or on a ship including, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, loss of or damage to passengers’ baggage or personal effects;
  • any claim arising out of any agreement relating to the carriage of goods in or on a ship or to the use or hire of a ship whether by charter party or otherwise;
  • any claim for salvage including, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, claims for salvage of life, cargo, equipment or other property of, from or by an aircraft to the same extent and in the same manner as if the aircraft were a ship;
  • any claim for towage in respect of a ship or of an aircraft while the aircraft is water-borne;
  • any claim for pilotage in respect of a ship or of an aircraft while the aircraft is water-borne;
  • any claim in respect of goods, materials or services wherever supplied to a ship for the operation or maintenance of the ship, including, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, claims in respect of stevedoring and lighterage;
  • any claim arising out of a contract relating to the construction, repair or equipping of a ship;
  • any claim by a master, officer or member of the crew of a ship for wages, money, property or other remuneration or benefits arising out of his or her employment;
  • any claim by a master, charterer or agent of a ship or shipowner in respect of disbursements, or by a shipper in respect of advances, made on account of a ship;
  • any claim in respect of general average contribution;
  • any claim arising out of or in connection with a contract of marine insurance; and
  • any claim for dock charges, harbour dues or canal tolls including, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, charges for the use of facilities supplied in connection therewith."

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