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Verisona: Marine lawyers and maritime law

Maritime or Admiralty law is a specialized area of legal profession combining both domestic and international legal agreements. This is why Marine lawyers are the only legal professional who can skillfully deal with all the legal matters related to Marine Law.

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Marine lawyers specialise in a fairly obvious area of the law; maritime law. In other words, the law of the ocean.


Confusingly, 'The Law of The Sea' is actually a separate matter. That's an international UN convention on territorial boundaries and national rights to navigational routes, mineral resources and legal jurisdiction that your average commercial marine lawyer will rarely have to deal with other than as a point of reference. Big cases in this area tend be resolved by governments rather than individuals.


Separate to this UN convention is maritime, or Admiralty law. This is an extremely specialised area of the legal profession as it combines both domestic law and private international legal agreements. It deals with matters such as marine commerce, navigation, international shipping, the rights of sailors and crew, as well as the rights and transportation of passengers by sea.


It may sound odd, but this body of law also covers many commercial activities on land - even if they take place entirely upon land - if they are of a maritime character.


The main difference from other bodies of law is that marine lawyers have to be particularly concerned with jurisdiction and international legalities. Although each country has a specific jurisdiction, Admiralty law draws upon numerous multilateral international treaties and a history of arrangements between private organisations and national governments.


The other big differences are that maritime law, though it has been standardised in recent years, is that it's extremely old. Maritime trade is one of the earliest channels of commerce between nations and the complications of working in several different nations have led to a huge body of legal precedent. Also, in many criminal cases where a jury would be required on land, maritime cases are almost exclusively settled by a judge - or at most, a panel of judges.


Unsurprisingly given the history of our island nation, Britain is extremely central to maritime law. Almost all of the Commonwealth countries - Pakistan, Singapore, India, Canada, Australia and many more - follow English statutes and case law to a great extent and international law is based heavily upon the statutes set down by the 17th century Admiralty.


Marine lawyers are the only legal specialists qualified to help people involved in cases involving harbour or port authorities; marine insurance claims; passenger and crew injury liability; salvage rights; yacht and motorboat sale/registration/theft; vessel finance; maritime import/export, VAT and customs and many, many more cases.


If you're involved in any claim or dispute like this then don't rely on your typical accident or injury lawyer - make sure you employ a maritime specialist.


© Victor Gomes, 2010

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