International Law of the Shipmaster




“Nought venture nought have.” John Heywood (1497-ca. 1580), Proverbs, Part 1,

§ 8.0 The Maritime Venture as Paradigm. To place conceptually the master and the owner or charterer, it is useful to use the concept of the maritime venture. A maritime venture may be defined as the activities comprising and surrounding the use of a vessel in service in return for freights or hire and the risks and profits associated with that use from a time certain of commencement to a time certain of completion of the use. The time certain is usually a convenient period for business accounting, commonly called a voyage, or a hire period for a time charter, which includes port-time as well as sea-time, commencing from some agreed time and point of departure to the end of the use and the commencement of the next use. A voyage can be divided into segments as fit the facts under analysis such as the sea voyage, the pilotage segment at departure or arrival, the time alongside, the times idle or active with cargo and so forth. These segments can also be timed for accounting purposes in a time charter. Thus, a maritime venture has elements of a vessel, the use of a vessel, a voyage and a set of risks and profits related to the voyage and time. These are not the only contributors, however, to the maritime venture or the voyage. Every party contributing economically takes some some risk in doing so and for so doing expect a reward in profits or derivatives of profits from the venture.1 A maritime venture is not a joint venture.2 A maritime venture is a less rigorously defined term and comprises all the express and implied obligations, duties, risks, rewards and authorities necessary for the employment of a vessel in the venture.3 The master’s private authority and duties and powers in the venture arise from the laws of agency and bailment, discussed infra. His public authority and powers and duties arise from the flag state laws or other laws under whose jurisdiction he may come whilst prosecuting the voyage. The privately authorised powers to perform various duties and the publicly authorised powers to perform them are related because the instructions of the master from his principal-owner always imply that he follow all laws applicable to him and the vessel and the things and person of the vessel during the maritime venture. The laws of the flag state which he must follow and enforce also provide his warrant to do so through his licence or certificate when he is engaged as master under contract to the owner.4 It is difficult to separate authorities and powers in narrative. Therefore, we have placed the usual private and statutory authorities and powers in this chapter and discuss extraordinary authorities and powers in Ch. 9, The Shipmaster’s Extraordinary Authorities and Powers, Duties and Rights of the Shipmaster.

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