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Maritime Nature of Contracts

In order to be considered maritime, there must be a direct and substantial link between a contract and the operation of a ship, its navigation, or its management afloat, taking into account the needs of the shipping industry.  The determination of whether a significant relationship exists should involve consideration of:

  • traditional concepts of the role of admiralty law;
  • the function and role of the parties;
  • the types of vehicles and instrumentalities involved; and
  • the causation and nature of the injury suffered.[i]

The true criterion for “maritime contract” is the nature and subject-matter of the contract, and whether it has reference to maritime services or maritime transactions.  Maritime contracts must relate to commerce and navigation.  To be a maritime contract:

  • It must be in its nature maritime.
  • It must relate to maritime affairs.
  • It must have a connection with the navigation of the ship, with equipment or preservation, or with the maintenance or preservation of the crew who are necessary to the navigation and safety of the ship.[ii]

[i] Kreatsoulas v. Freights of the Levant Pride, 838 F. Supp. 147 (S.D.N.Y. 1993)

[ii] Johnson v. Swonder, 84 Ind. App. 155 (Ind. Ct. App. 1926)

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