Home / Shipping News / Shipping Law News / The 25 universal principles of maritime law defined for the first time in the Draft CMI Lex Maritima

The 25 universal principles of maritime law defined for the first time in the Draft CMI Lex Maritima

The 25 major global principles of maritime law have been put on paper for the very first time. This ‘Draft CMI Lex Maritima’ was presented at a successful colloquium of the Comité Maritime International (CMI) in Gothenburg from 22 to 24 May, attended by 280 participants from all continents.

The ‘CMI Lex Maritima – The Gothenburg Draft’ formulates the universally shared basic principles of maritime law. The document can also be considered a ‘Lex Mercatoria’ for maritime affairs.

That maritime law rests on a common foundation is confirmed in the case law of many countries (including the USA and the UK), in various national codes and statutes and in a vast legal literature. As a branch of law, maritime law has a long tradition, with roots in Classical Antiquity and the Western European Middle Ages. Over the centuries, its basic rules have shown a striking international harmony. Since 1897, the uniformity of maritime law has been promoted by the umbrella organisation Comité Maritime International, which prepared numerous maritime unification conventions. In recent decades, maritime conventions have been formalised mainly within United Nations institutions, including the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in London. With its legal expertise, the CMI acts as a consultative member of the IMO.

The Draft CMI Lex Maritima was drafted on the initiative of Eric Van Hooydonk, a professor at Ghent University and a lawyer in Antwerp. In 2014, he argued in the Journal of International Maritime Law that, although the existence of a common Lex Maritima is accepted worldwide, the principles in question have never been precisely identified nor formulated in a set of rules. At Eric’s suggestion, the CMI launched a project to draft the Lex Maritima in 2014. Eric carried out the research of national legal systems to distil the major, globally accepted common principles from them, and drafted the instrument. He also chaired an International Working Group of the CMI, with Professor Jesús Casas from Madrid as rapporteur[1]. The Working Group devoted numerous fruitful discussions to the document. After 10 years of preparation, the draft document was thus presented in Gothenburg. It is available at https://comitemaritime.org/work/lex-maritima/

The Draft CMI Lex Maritima comprises 25 principles on fundamental issues such as the interpretation and sources of maritime law, the status, ownership and management of ships, the responsibilities and liabilities of ship owners and operators, the ship master, the pilot, the limitation of liability, maritime contracts, chartering agreements and contracts of carriage, collision, salvage, general average, wreck removal, liens and mortgages on ships, arrest and detention of ships, and time bars.

The Draft CMI Lex Maritima has now been submitted to CMI’s affiliated national associations of maritime law professionals for their opinion. The final version will later be submitted to the Assembly of the CMI for approval.

Eric Van Hooydonk, president of the International Working Group: “I am very pleased that after 10 years of preparation the Draft CMI Lex Maritima has now seen the light of day. It was a fascinating job to search for the deepest, universal core in the vast multitude of international and national maritime rules. I am grateful to the members of the CMI International Working Group for a very pleasant and fruitful cooperation. I also thank the many friends and colleagues of the CMI and its national maritime law associations who have encouraged us all the time and look forward to comments on the draft document.”

Ann Fenech, President of the Comité Maritime International: “I am extremely grateful to Eric, Jesús and the entire team of the International Working Group for their hard work. The Draft CMI Lex Maritima is an excitingly original piece of work and an important milestone. Never before has an attempt been made to summarise the common basis of global maritime law in a set of major principles. With this fine project, the CMI confirms its role as the leading, representative organisation of the maritime law world.”
Source: Comité Maritime International (CMI)

Recent Videos

Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide Online Daily Newspaper on Hellenic and International Shipping