LAWCOMM 428 - Maritime Law

Credit points: 15 points
Offered: Semester One
Contact hours: 3 hours per week
Course Coordinator: Matthew Flynn
Prerequisites: LAW 211, 231, 241

Course description

Maritime law has developed out of the extensive nature of activities relating to the use of the sea, in particular from the early development of trading between nations.  The law of contract forms the basis for a significant amount of the important principles and practical applications of maritime law, and the course will have a strong focus on contracts.  It will include a study of a major maritime casualty, which allows students the opportunity to see how the wide ranging aspects of maritime law are applied in a very practical way.  The course will also explore the unique jurisdiction of the Admiralty Court, how that has evolved, and why that remains relevant to today’s commercial maritime activity.

Content outline

The course is designed to introduce students to a basic understanding of maritime law both as it is applied in the context of New Zealand domestic law, and how it interplays with maritime law in a global context.  The course will be taught in seven parts over 12 weeks of lectures.  These parts are:

  • Part 1:  Introduction to maritime law, and why it exists;
  • Part 2:  Contracts for maritime activity, including ship owning, carriage of goods, passengers and commercial maritime activity;
  • Part 3:  Legal regimes in place to govern maritime activity;
  • Part 4:  Maritime risk and the interplay with marine insurance;
  • Part 5:  Carriage of goods and people;
  • Part 6:  Practical application to maritime activity, including dispute resolution;
  • Part 7:  A detailed analysis of a major marine casualty to demonstrate how all the principles are applied in a practical way.

The course will also consider the practical work of being a maritime lawyer, including evidence, using experts, and dispute resolution.


1500 word assignment (20%)

2 hour open book exam (80%)

Open book means that you may, if you wish, bring into the exam and refer to any materials such as casebooks, textbooks and study notes.

Recommended text

There is one recommended text on New Zealand maritime law, and a course book will be made available containing the relevant resources.