The sea has historically served two purposes: first, as a means of connection between different territories, and second, as a huge waterbody with a variety of resources (both living and non-living). These two roles have contributed to an increase in the formation of legal rules. The core tenet of the law of the sea is that “the land dominates the water,” which means that a coastal state’s territorial situation on land serves as the basis for determining its maritime rights.[1]

What do we mean by Admiralty Law?

It refers to the body of international law that controls disputes involving the sea and private navigational activities. Often known as maritime law, this body of law oversees ships that travel to oceans and regulates interactions between the private parties who own and operate these ships. It combines domestic laws that regulate naval activities with private international law. Admiralty law’s goal is to ensure the safety of people and goods on waterways. The following types of accidents are covered by this law: accidents involving towing and large ships leaving docks; accidents involving seamen and done by seamen when they commit crimes while on the ship; ship hijacking; accidents involving recreational boats; dock and canal accidents like the Suez Canal Blockage issue in 2021.[2]

What are the Incidents of Navigation?

Accidents or incidents of navigation are strange misfortunes that occur while travelling by sea or to regular navigation. This indicates that other variables rather as improper handling or navigation of the ship cause maritime accidents. In cases like this, a ship is typically not responsible for losses caused by navigational errors and not by negligence on the side of the ship. A container ship with a capacity of 20,000 TEU called Ever Given or Evergreen blocked the Suez Canal in March 2021[3]. The personnel was primarily made up of Asian Indians, and the ship was owned by a Japanese firm and operated by a Taiwanese company. The blockage happened when the ever-given marine ship got struck in a sandstorm The Ever Give was caught in a sandstorm due to which its operators lost control of the ship causing it to be crammed across the waterway with bow and stern stuck in the canal banks. The deviated the ship causing it to hull This blockage of the Canal had a severe negative impact on the international trade between Europe, Asia, and Middle Asia.


The development of the nation’s economy is correlated with marine regulations because they are one of the main sources of money. This rule of water is growing in popularity both inside and outside of India. In the twenty-first century, it is predicted that the Indian Ocean would dominate both world geopolitics and economic activity. India offers a favourable opportunity for naval operations because it is surrounded by water on three sides. The majority of global trade is carried out by sea. People are beginning to study this subject of law as a result of the growing demand for international trade. Many Indian universities have opened courses for both private and public international law of sea so studying maritime will be interesting as the sea is all about waves of mysterious knowledge and rising growth due to its increasing demand. There are career opportunities for maritime lawyers as they can be litigators and facilitators in various tribunals and courts.

History of sea law in India

Since ancient times we have seen India at the front in marine trade in and outside the borders of the sea. There are different historical documents supporting the fact that many merchants and traders travelled overseas to reach India for the exchange of goods and services. In order to ensure safe and efficient maritime trade Indian government post-independent considered enacting various legislations and rules. The colonial government had imposed various laws for the same for Example- the Inland Steam Vessels Act of 1917 [4], The Indian Ports Act 1908 [5], and The Indian Merchant Shipping Act 1923 [6]. But these colonial laws were not in accordance with the existing legal system in India so post-independence the government enacted new ordinances and rules to improve existing coastal practices. The result of the case of M.V. Elisabeth V Harwan Investment and Trading Pvt. Ltd [7]resulted in the common law system of India recognizing the principles of the International Convention on maritime laws. This recognition of India towards the International Convention was required as there is no justified law or statute of India describing maritime claims.


Admiralty law is based on two main conventions-

1) United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)[8]: Also named as Law of the Sea Convention refers to an international agreement that sets up the legal framework for all marine and maritime activities.

2) International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea[9]: This tribunal was established as one of the dispute settlement mechanisms under part XV of the Law of the Sea Convention. It is based in Hamburg and its jurisdiction consists of all disputes and applications submitted to it in accordance with the convention.


Marine rules influence the growth of the country’s economy because they are one of the major revenue streams. Both inside and outside of India, this water-related law is becoming more and more well-liked. The Indian Ocean is expected to dominate both global geopolitics and economic activities in the twenty-first century. With water on three sides, India presents an excellent chance for naval operations. The vast majority of international trade is conducted by sea. In conclusion, the adoption of stringent regulations and reading through the key components of the Indian Naval Strategic Publication titled “Ensuring Secure Seas: Indian Maritime Security Strategy (October 2015)” [10]will help you better understand the complex contours of India’s strategy towards maritime security. Due to the increasing demand for international trade, people are starting to study this area of law. Studying marine law would be intriguing because many Indian universities have started courses in both private and public international law of the sea. The sea is full of waves of enigmatic knowledge and rising growth as a result of its expanding demand.

Author(s) Name: Mehak Verma (Indian Institute of Management, Rohtak)


[1] Malcolm Shaw, International Law, 1976

[2] Jade Man-yin Lee and Eugene Yin-cheung Wong, “Suez Canal blockage: an analysis of legal

impact, risks and liabilities to the global supply chain” (2021)

[3]  The Cost of Suez Canal Blockage Issue by Mary-Ann Russon <> accessed on 23 February 2023

[4] Inland Steam Vessels Act 1917

[5] The Indian Ports Act 1908

[6] The Indian Merchant Shipping Act 1923

[7] M.V. Elisabeth V Harwan Investment and Trading Pvt. Ltd [1992] SCR (1)1003

[8] United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea [1982]

[9] International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea [1982]

[10] <> accessed 23rd February 2023

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