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The Basics of Maritime/Admiralty Law

The Basics of Maritime/Admiralty Law

Admiralty, or as it is better known in Europe, Maritime law, is the combination of US and international law pertaining to navigable seas, including lakes and rivers. While these laws used to govern oceans and seas in the past, it now includes any space of water, which is publicly accessible and can be traversed. What does this law cover? Its reach is far and wide, with the primary aim being that to offer protection to captains, crew and passengers on vessels.


The rise of piracy, especially in Somali waters, was the impetus that drove these laws into the creation and firm application around the world. However, the governance of these laws extends further, covering occurrences happening on cruise ships (like passengers falling ill or in case of deaths), oil rigs (when accidents happen or in case of tragedies or spillages), cargo ships and ferries – all these rely on maritime law to dispute claims or seek protection. When matters that could happen on land also happen on water, such as employment strikes or injuries, seeking help from any attorney might not be enough. Special legal rules may apply, especially since a number of international treaties and federal laws may need to be consulted. It is, therefore, crucial to know how admiral law stands, or if you believe you are not up to the task, to consult with a specialist in maritime law.


A number of areas are typically included in the maritime law, and we will list them here so as to be able to better categorise what falls under admiral law and what doesn’t.

  • Shipping
  • Navigation
  • Piracy
  • Waters, canals and rivers
  • National and international commerce 
  • Seamen and longshoremen
  • Towage and salvage
  • Wharves, piers, and docks
  • Insurance 
  • Maritime liens (or, the right of the creditor, or victim, in this case, to retain the properties of his debtor, whether physical or services, until the debt is paid.)
  • Recreational boating. 

Having a universal law governing all these issues facilitates commerce and aid in the boosting of the economies worldwide.


As with all legal cases, attorneys may either defend a claimant in pursuit of reimbursement on personal injuries or damage to property or bring an action against seamen for whatever reason that might be; be it pollution, damages, collisions, etc. It is essential for any sailor to know his and her rights and duties prior to sailing off. It might make the difference between coming out on top, or being dragged down.