THE INTERNATIONAL Chamber of Shipping has launched its first edition of The Master’s Practical Guide to Maritime Law as a legal reference book specifically to aid seafarers with incidents at sea.
The guide is co-authored with the International Federation of Shipmasters’ Associations (IFSMA).
It is designed to help masters at sea identify and address common legal issues.
Because masters are not qualified lawyers, the guide helps them understand how to manage legal risks and respond within the confines of the law to protect the interests of themselves, the shipowner and other crew members.
A statement from ICS said the guide bridges the gap between theory and practice by bringing real-world situations, both in port or sea, to life, helping masters navigate common legal issues and pitfalls and assist in protecting the shipowner’s interests.
ICS secretary-general Guy Platten said the current maritime operating environment is rapidly changing, and the guide would be vital to supporting seafarers with incidents at sea.
“This first edition specifically for seafarers is essential reading not only for seasoned masters seeking to refresh their knowledge, but also masters who are embarking on their very first voyage and would benefit from guidance through the legal intricacies within the maritime industry,” he said.
“Working so closely with IFSMA on this guide was crucial in ensuring that the guide addresses the key legal issues commonly facing Masters today and provides comprehensive guidance in an easy to digest way.”
The Master’s Practical Guide to Maritime Law encompasses a wide range of subjects. With each chapter, masters will gain a comprehensive understanding of their rights, responsibilities and obligations under maritime law from the start of a voyage until the end.
It covers the legal responsibilities in areas such as ship documentation, contractual relationships and commercial responsibilities for carriage of cargo, as well as dealing with crimes on board and local legal enforcement. The guide also explains the international conventions that underpin the global maritime legal framework, for example on pollution regulations.
Serving shipmaster Martin Bjorkell – who contributed to the guide and recently presented on it at the IFSMA Biennial General Assembly in Tokyo – said: “This guide will prove invaluable for our industry and help masters know how to approach legal issues effectively, highlighting best practices and providing expert guidance on managing legal risks, with particular emphasis on the commercial aspects that form a significant part of every master’s responsibilities on board. We wanted masters to feel empowered to make informed decisions on matters that might have legal consequences to ensure the safety of the crew, ship, environment and cargo.”
While the guide strives to offer a comprehensive overview on legal issues which the Master may encounter, it does not replace the need to obtain professional legal advice in the relevant jurisdiction particularly when the Master and shipowner is faced with legal challenges beyond the scope of the guide.