The Classical Legacy of Admiralty: The Roman Experience (Part Two of a Two-Part Series)

Last month we examined some pre-Roman beginnings of modern admiralty doctrine, starting from pre-history through the Greek city states.  [1]  This month we will continue our study of the classical beginnings of admiralty and maritime law by examining mighty Rome – what its legal system was like, how Rome’s laws evolved and amplified the admiralty that came before them, and most importantly how Rome’s influence on maritime legal matters influenced a wide array of modern doctrines from maritime tort and contract liability to general average.  I highly recommend reviewing my last article, published on February 15, before continuing on.  [2]  This will set the stage for understanding what Rome inherited and what she gave back to the western legal tradition after her downfall.

At the height of her power, Rome stretched from Scotland to Persia to Spain to Romania.  [3]  The economic and military might of the Empire was the

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The Classical Legacy of Admiralty: The Pre-Roman World (Part One of a Two-Part Series)

The classical world, western civilization from the dawn of written history to the fall of the Roman Empire [1] in 476 A.D., [2] was dependant on the arteries of transportation that crisscrossed Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.  Like the modern world, no state existed entirely in a vacuum.  Whether an empire or a city-state lived or died depended largely on its ability to move people and materials efficiently.  What we know today as admiralty and maritime law has its earliest roots in the classical period. [3] This body of law was highly developed in antiquity when compared with other legal subjects, especially considering that many admiralty law doctrines are unchanged from their ancient states.  Studying the state of admiralty in ancient history sheds much light on the reasons why admiralty is the way it is today, and why it differs from other doctrinal areas of law.

One half of

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The Future of U.S.-Cuban Transportation Law

The story has been told in many different ways, but for the most part it goes something like this: during the height of the Cold War, a newspaper reporter is flying on an Air Force jet interviewing a major general about a new missile designed to keep the Soviets on their side of the Iron Curtain.  During the conversation, the general opens a cigar box full of Cubans, takes one out, and lights it up.  “General,” the newspaper reporter asks, taken aback, “what are you doing?  Isn’t that behavior supporting the illegitimate regime of Cuba?”  The general taps his cigar, gives the newspaper man a wink, and replies, “No son, I consider it to be burning the communist’s crops.”  [1]

For half of the twentieth century and the entirety of the twenty-first, Cuba has been ruled by a communist government under the direction of Fidel Castro.  Castro took power during

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A Salty Flavor to Your (Formerly) Land-Based Contracts: Norfolk Southern v. Kirby Two Years Later

In 2004 the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a decision that changed the jurisdictional requirements of adjudicating a contract in admiralty.  [1]  This was a major development in an area of the law that is remarkably resistant to change because of the nature of shipping evolves little compared to other technology.  These changes should have had a larger effect in legal circles, because now certain “mixed contracts” that fell in the grey area between admiralty and non-admiralty law were considered to be within admiralty jurisdiction entirely.  [2]  Now certain contracts for the carriage of goods that arrange for transportation over both land and water in a single contract can be adjudicated in certain instances that were impossible before.  [3]  Currently, a shipping container undergoing some catastrophic event in Nevada could be litigated in admiralty as long as the majority of its journey was made on navigable waterways

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New Life in an Old Method: A Concise Railroad Law Primer

The reality of the modern world is that fuel prices are enormous compared with averages from as little as ten years ago, and it is improbable that they will decline anytime in the near future.  [1]  One consequence of current fuel prices is the higher cost of freight and passenger transportation around the country.  Carriers must adjust their rates according to a confusing maelstrom of fluctuating fuel costs, federal security requirements pertaining to the war on terrorism, and the instability of steady customers in the lukewarm economy.  [2]  A solution may be as simple as looking to a transportation method that is over a century old and is conveniently located in nearly all major American markets – the railroad system.  Railroad freight and passenger services, and the laws that accompany them, are probably unfamiliar to many practicing attorneys because of the multitude of other transportation options that sellers have preferred

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The Maritime Labor Convention: New Protections for those who work on the High Seas

I.  Introduction

On February 23, 2006, the International Labor Organization adopted the Maritime Labor Convention. The convention is an attempt to consolidate all existing maritime labor regimes and to provide a comprehensive rights based charter for maritime employees.  The United States participated in the conference in the hopes that by passing this convention more economic benefits may flow to the American maritime industry. The convention may provide a basis for American employees to maintain and enhance traditional rights such as maintenance and cure.

II.  History & Standards

On February 23, 2006, after two weeks of frantic activity and last minute haggling, the International Labor Organization (ILO) adopted the long debated Maritime Labor Convention. [1] The convention, a comprehensive new labor regime for those working in the maritime industry, was adopted by a vote of 314 for, with no votes against, and four abstentions. [2] Two major goals of the treaty

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