What is Maritime Law?

Maritime law is more commonly known as admiralty law. This area of the legal field is comprised of laws, conventions, and treaties that govern private maritime business and other nautical matters, such as shipping, fishing rights or illegal acts occurring on open water.

International rules, governing the use of the open oceans and seas, are known as the Law of the Sea. Bukh Global is a leader in this field, particularly in the United States of America in regard to its surrounding seas. We also excel on the international level as well.

United States federal courts have jurisdiction over maritime law. State law does not apply. A ship’s flag determines the source of law under admiralty. This means a ship flying a French flag in the Pacific Ocean off the California coast would be subject to French admiralty law. This also applies to any criminal act committed by the ship’s crew.

However, the ship flying that particular flag must have substantial interactions with the nation of its flag in order for the law to be viable. The goal of the law is to seek international uniformity to avoid conflicts. Despite this lofty aspiration, conflicts do arise and this is where we come in.

Maritime law governs private maritime inquiries, disagreements, and/or transgressions and other nautical issues.In most advanced countries, maritime law is an agreed-upon code that is a separate and independent jurisdiction from a country’s national law. The International Maritime Organization certifies that existing international maritime conventions are kept up to date and that new agreements are created when the necessity arises.

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There are three main conventions:

  • The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea
  • The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships
  • The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers

The 174 IMO member states are solely responsible for the application and enforcement of these conventions for ships registered in their nation. Since many nations allow foreign registration, or “Flags of Convenience” many conflicts come into play making it all the more necessary you seek our help when navigating the sometimes treacherous waters of maritime law.

What Does the Law Cover?

The United Nations, in conjunction with the International Maritime Organization, has mandated many treaties outlining certain rules that are enforced by the navies and coast guards of those specific countries that have signed the treaty. These rules pertain to piracy, insurance claims relating to ships and cargo, certain civil matters between ship owners, crew members, and passengers.

Bukh Global is well-versed in these conventions and would have no trouble in offering you successful solutions to your particular maritime law issue. Moreover, maritime law was written to regulate the registration, license, and inspection protocol for ships, shipping contracts, maritime insurance and the transportation of cargo and passengers.

All of which we have decades of experience in handling and representing our client’s unique needs in a complex litigation arena.


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