The Difference Between Maritime and Common Law

There are many aspects in which maritime and common law coincide, however, there are other points in which they differ. Read on to find out more.

What is Maritime Law?

Maritime law, also known as admiralty law, is the branch of law that controls navigation and trade on any navigational waters, including the high seas. According to the United States Constitution, federal courts have the authority to exercise admiralty jurisdiction, which covers cases in which claims arise from an accident on any navigable waters of the United States, including those that relate to maritime commerce.

Maritime law deals with contracts that relate to the business of navigation and commerce of the sea, it also looks at cases of crimes that take place on the high seas and directly involve U. S. vessels or American citizens, and maritime suits involve issues that are important on a national level because they relate to international relations, foreign citizen rights, and commerce.

The scope of maritime law also encompasses issues that arise with privately owned boats, even those that are simply used to spend a day of fun with friends and family. It also solves problems that arise with longshoremen, harbor workers, seamen, stevedores, and anyone affected by vessels.

What is Common Law?

The body of legal rules that have been set out by judges when they issue rulings on cases is called common law. It differs from those laws and rules that are defined by the legislature or in official statutes. This reflects the fact that common law is based on usage, custom, and the decisions and opinions of the courts of law.

Also known as case law, is based on legal precedents established by the courts and plays an influential role in the decision-making process of judges, especially so in unusual cases where the outcome is difficult to determine based on existing rules of law or statutes.

Because common law deals with routine, everyday situations as they happen, changes in the way society functions, new inventions and discoveries arise, judges must often look outside reported decisions for guidance in cases that deal with a previously undetermined legal issue. All citizens, notwithstanding their place in society, are subject to the same set of laws.

What is the main difference between Maritime Law and Common Law?

Perhaps the most salient difference between maritime and common law courts lies in the fact that admiralty judges only apply general maritime law and conduct trials without juries.

Also, maritime law formerly applied exclusively to American tidal waters but now extends to any waters that are navigable within the United States, whether used for foreign or interstate commerce. On the other hand, common law does not act as a binding precedent on maritime courts but it can be used there when no law on the point is available.

Do you have a case that involves maritime law?

If you do, it is important to find legal representation that understands the intricacies of this unique and multifaceted area of the law. The team of experienced attorneys at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, PA have dealt with many cases involving maritime law. If you or your loved one has been injured in an incident at sea or on a vessel and you would like to speak to a lawyer that has the experience to deal with the matter you need, make an appointment today regarding your case.

Share Article

Related Articles