Friday, June 16, 2023
09:00 – 10:30

The CMI Lex Maritima Project - Latest Draft and Further Planning

Venue: Le Centre Sheraton Montreal Hotel, Ballroom, Level 4

The CMI's Lex Maritima project is the very first attempt to put in writing the globally accepted principles of maritime law. The Lex Maritima can be considered the Lex Mercatoria for maritime matters. 


Maritime law is supported by a long tradition of international uniformity. In recent years, however, the development of a universal maritime legal order by the adoption of unifying conventions has slowed. At the same time general, non-maritime contract law has started to find a way to wider harmonisation. The existence of a Lex Maritima consisting of a complex of internationally accepted rules of maritime law that may be traced in particular back to usage and general principles is widely, and even increasingly subscribed to by legal doctrine. Moreover, this view finds support in numerous elements of positive law, including case law and recently adopted national codification of maritime law. 


On the other hand, there is no instrument of practical use available in which this virtually mythical Lex Maritima with all its customs, usages and principles is clearly articulated. Preparing and promoting such a compilation is quintessentially a task for the Comité Maritime International in the exercise of its research and education role, and with the broad aim of the promotion of harmonisation of maritime laws.


The CMI IWG on the Lex Maritima is preparing an elementary - that is, concise and flexible - description of the typical concepts and rules of maritime law that may be regarded as being internationally accepted and common to most, if not all legal systems and traditions. In other words, it is an exposition of the foundations of positive maritime law, such as those encountered in the conventions, national laws and the more specific and thematic self-regulating sources. In other words, this is a search for the innermost core of maritime law, as it is expressed in the concrete, practical legal rules in daily use in the maritime and legal community. The main difference between the proposed Lex Maritima principles and previous unification efforts is that the former explore and focus on common ground, rather than tackle issues of disagreement and divergence that require resolution. Such a compliation of selected general principles of maritime law could promote the satisfactory functioning of maritime law.