Impact of International Conventions 

Maritime commercial activities are inherently derived from international trades. Consumer products which were made in China and sent to USA may be loaded on a Danish container ship that is manned by an Bulgarian, Croatian, and Filipino crew, the ship may be owned by Greeks, and financed by British banks, the cargo insured by a German company, the ship insured by a  Belgian company, and the liability insurance provided by a Norwegian shipowners’ association comprised of members from all around the  world. The ship could make calls in India, South Korea, Japan, Canada, and USA, and carry cargoes owned by thousands of other companies and traders from different countries. The ship may pass countless other ships during voyage with similar international interests. Shipping is an international business and in order to keep trade moving in this international system, many countries have to work cooperatively on maritime issues. UN (United Nations) formed the IMO (International Maritime Organization) in order to facilitate international cooperation in maritime matters, and develop international standards for shipping. International Maritime Organization has developed a body of international law governing the construction and maintenance of ships, the operation and security of ships and port facilities, the prevention of pollution at sea and rivers, the rules to prevent collisions of ships, the training and certification of crew members, the suppression of unlawful acts at sea, the facilitation of maritime commerce, maritime salvage, and maritime liability. Much of maritime laws are derived from International Conventions. International conventions adopted by the International Maritime Organization and their implementing regulations are published by the IMO and sold through the International Maritime Organization Bookstore and ship chandlers. Many of the International Maritime Organization conventions and regulations are also available on the internet, through the International Maritime Organization website and other sources. International conventions are only a part of international maritime law. All maritime countries develop and implement maritime law in accordance with their own legal systems and traditions. Due to the international nature of maritime commerce and trade, and by extension maritime law, many aspects of maritime law are similar across all countries and maritime nations. Maritime laws concerning ship collisions, salvage, and cargo claims tend to be very similar, even where maritime nations have not agreed to the relevant international convention. Similarly, the sale of ships to satisfy maritime liens and the enforcement of preferred vessel mortgages are generally the same. Unfortunately, despite the rich tradition of the general maritime law as an international body of law, and hard work of International Maritime Organization, maritime nations still have some differences. For example, not all countries recognize the same scope for maritime liens as USA. England, Commonwealth Countries and countries that legal systems based upon English law, do not recognize maritime liens for bunkers, provisions, or other necessaries. By the same content, procedural and other standards may be affected by local legal systems. For example, despite a maritime tradition of shipowner limitations of liability, an international convention, and a series of protocols to that convention, the standards for a ship owner to limit its liability for a maritime casualty, and the actual limits of that liability, vary from nation to nation depending on whether the country has adopted the international framework for limitation and whether the country has accepted one or more of the protocols to the international convention. However, most courts, including courts in USA, will undertake a choice of law analysis to determine the most applicable law to the legal dispute at hand. In theory, United States maritime law is a uniform federal law. United States Supreme Court in its reference to admiralty and maritime law, the Constitution referred to a “system of law coextensive with, and operating uniformly in, the whole nation. Leading decisions in United States maritime law, having been decided by the Supreme Court, are therefore uniform throughout the entire country. However, because maritime law is interpreted and decided by different courts in different judicial circuits, certain fine points of maritime law can vary between United States judicial circuits. Furthermore, some circuits have become noted for certain aspects of maritime law. Louisiana and Texas jurisdictions (Fifth Circuit) is well regarded as a source of general maritime law with regard to personal injury and maritime services contracts. New York jurisdiction (Second Circuit) is well regarded as a source of maritime law with regard to maritime arbitration and commercial transactions. In sum, International Conventions has significant impacts on all maritime nations’ local laws.