Maritime Law

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Maritime law

Module 1 – Introduction to maritime law

1 1. What is the field of law described as ‘maritime law’?

The subject of maritime law attempts to give you a clear understanding of the legal principles applicable to commercial shipping operations. These are the legal principles that determine the obligations and regulate the relationships of the parties in the maritime transport chain.

2 2. What is the field of law described as ‘admiralty law’?

3. What is an ‘in rem legal claim’?

Claims in rem may only be brought before the Admiralty Court in the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court. However, not all claims within the jurisdiction of the claim can be brought in rem. To consider whether a case can be brought in rem, a plaintiff will need to ask first whether its claim falls within the general jurisdiction of the Admiralty Court and if it does, whether it is the type of claim that may be brought in rem.

The in rem claim was originally founded on the notion of maritime liens. Enforcement of judgment was allowed against the property arrested, on the theory that a maritime lien attached to the property from the moment of the creation of such a claim. That is why it becomes known as an ‘action in rem’.

The entire in rem claims from the issue of the in rem claim form are registered in the Admiralty Registry. The procedural step of issuing the claim has the effect of crystallizing the in rem claim on the ship as a statutory lien in rem, which is very important as a form of security in case the ship is, in the meantime, sold even to a bona fide purchaser.

4. What is an ‘in personam legal claim’?

In personam claims are now governed by CPR Pt 58 and Practice Direction 58 (PD 58). An action in personam will be allowed for claims against the cargo belonging to the State, if the ship carrying it was used, or intended for use, for commercial purpose (s 10(4)(b). however, where the defendant would not be liable in personam, the defendant’s maximum exposure will be in respect of the res itself. The claimant will be entitled to enforce the full amount of any judgment in respect of the in personam liability of the ship owner. Where no such liability has been incurred, however, the judgment will still be limited to the value of the res.

Module 2 – National and International Law

1 Q1. What is ‘national law’?

National law is the law that governs Australian citizens in their daily life. National law is an invisible web that underpins life in a civil democratic society. The stuff of everyday life – driving a car, purchasing an appliance, signing up to a mobile phone contract – is underpinned by national law. National law regulates relations between the members of a society and imposes a certain code of behaviour. It provides a framework of rights and obligations within which economic, social, and political activities are carried out. National law is binding upon Australian people. In this sense, it is important to note that ‘people’ has an extended meeting. It applies, in its normal sense, to ‘natural’ people – flesh and blood. But it also (usually) applies to ‘corporate’ people. In the eyes of the law, corporations such as BHP Billiton Limited and Rio Tinto Limited are for most intents and purposes - ‘people’. National law is also known as domestic law.

2 2. What is ‘international law’?

International Law applies primarily to the relations between sovereign nations (also known as ‘states’). It is the law of nations governing the conduct of nations towards other nations. International law attempts to provide an orderly framework for international relations. Such a framework seeks to foster peace and harmony among nations and promotes...
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