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Government Regulation, Wharfage Rates, LiabilityInjuries to Wharves

Structures erected on the margin of NAVIGABLE WATERS where vessels can stop to load and unload cargo.

Cities located on lakes, rivers, and oceans usually have at least one wharf, where ships can deliver and pick up passengers and load and unload various types of goods. The law regarding wharves deals with access to wharves, rates that may be charged, and liability issues surrounding the use of these facilities.

There are public and private wharves. Public wharves, which can be used with or without paying a fee, ordinarily belong to a government organization, such as a city or town. Private wharves are owned or leased by individuals for their own private use. Such a wharf may be opened to the public in exchange for a one-time payment or a rental fee. If the public is allowed to use the private wharf, it becomes a quasi-public facility that is open to all who are able to pay the charges. Whether a particular wharf is public or private depends mainly on its use, rather than on its ownership.

There are several terms peculiar to wharves. Wharfage in its most general sense refers to the use of a wharf in the usual course of navigation for such practices as loading and unloading goods and passengers. In a more restricted sense, the term wharfage refers to a charge or rent for the use of the wharf. A wharfinger is an individual who maintains a wharf for the purposes of receiving goods for hire. The term dock refers to an enclosure for the reception of vessels as well as a place where ships are built and repaired. It can include bulkheads, piers, slips, a waterway, wharves, and the space between wharves.

Injuries to Wharves

The proprietor of a wharf has a right to use and enjoy the property undisturbed by the negligent conduct of others. A wharf proprietor can recover damages for injury to the wharf that results from the negligent operation of a vessel.


Shipping Law.

Additional topics

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