Admiralty and Maritime Law
History Of Admiralty And Maritime Law
The life of the mariner, spent far away from the stability of land, has long been considered an exotic one of travel, romance, and danger. Stories of pirates, mutinies, lashings, and hasty trials—many of them true—illustrate the peculiar, isolated nature of the maritime existence. In modern times, the practice of shipping goods by sea has become more civil, but the law still gives maritime activities special treatment by acknowledging the unique conflicts and difficulties involved in high-seas navigation and commerce.
The roots of maritime law can be traced as far back as 900 B.C., which is when the Rhodian Customary Law is believed to have been shaped by the people of the island of Rhodes. The only concept in the Rhodian Laws that still exists is the law of jettison, which holds that if goods must be thrown overboard (jettisoned) for the safety of the ship or the safety of another's property, the owner of the goods is entitled to compensation from the beneficiaries of the jettison.
Codes enacted by medieval port cities and states have formed the current U.S. maritime law. The eleventh-century Amalphitan Code, of the Mediterranean countries; the fourteenth-century Consolato del Mare, of France, Spain, and Italy; the twelfth-century Roll of Oleron, from England; and the thirteenth-century Law of Visby all drew on the customs of mariners and merchants to create the unique SUBSTANTIVE LAW of admiralty that still exists today. Procedural differences existed between maritime cases and other civil proceedings until 1966, when the U.S. Supreme Court approved amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that brought admiralty and maritime procedural rules into accord with those used in other civil suits. The substantive maritime law, however, has remained intact.
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