HomeMaritime Law MiscellanyAdmiralty Law and the Internet
Todd P. Kenyon

 As a network for eCommerce, the Internet has fallen on rough times lately.  But as a source of often critical information, particularly for lawyers, its usefulness has steadily increased over the past several years.  Admiralty attorneys cannot afford to ignore the surprising amount of free and professionally necessary information available on the Internet.

  All of the relevant United States Government departments, including the Coast Guard (www.uscg.mil), the Maritime Administration (www.marad.dot.gov) and the Federal Maritime Commission (www.fmc.gov), maintain sites that include virtually all of the laws, regulations, forms and other information necessary when practicing law in their respective areas.  Web sites of the maritime related international organizations are similarly comprehensive.  The International Maritime Organization (www.imo.org) in particular publishes a vast collection of material (treaty information, maritime articles and papers, IMO circulars, etc.) at its site.  Each of the scores of private professional organizations, from the Association of Ship Brokers and Agents (www.asba.org) to the World Organization of Dredging Associations (www.woda.org), have sites that include practical information in their areas that can be indispensable to an admiralty attorney when handling a specific case or legal issue.

 The maritime law related associations are of course key sources of information.  The Comite Maritime International (www.comitemaritime.org) publishes its newsletter online as well as the detailed reports and working papers generated by its various conferences.  Many of the national maritime law associations maintain their own sites, including the U.S. (www.mlaus.org), Canadian (www.cmla.org) and British (www.bmla.org.uk) associations. For American admiralty attorneys in particular, the U.S. MLAís decision to place its entire MLA Directory online is to be applauded. The national maritime arbitration associations, including the Society of Maritime Arbitrators (www.smany.org), the London Maritime Arbitrators Association (www.lmaa.org.uk) and the China Maritime Arbitration Commission (www.cmac.org.cn), are well represented on the Internet.  They almost all publish their rules and membership directories online.

 The most important sources for any lawyer - the cases, codes and regulations - are for an admiralty attorney in the United States more readily available on the Internet than they are for lawyers practicing in fields not based on federal law.  The Supreme Court (www.supremecourtus.gov), all of the Circuit Courts of Appeals and many of the District Courts maintain web sites where their recent opinions are freely available.  The United States Code, the Code of Federal Regulations and the Federal Register are available at the Government Printing Office web site (www.access.gpo.gov) without charge.

 As a gateway to this vast array of admiralty law information on the Internet, the best starting points are the specialized admiralty and maritime law sites that have been launched in the past five years or so. Christopher Giaschiís AdmiraltyLaw.com (www.admiraltylaw.com) was perhaps the first.  As an admiralty attorney based in Vancouver, his site includes a large collection of Canadian admiralty case digests, statutes, papers and admiralty law links.  Professor William Tetley, well-known to all Tulane maritime law alumni, publishes the aptly titled Tetley's Maritime and Other Law and Nonsense (tetley.law.mcgill.ca), which  is a cornucopia of articles, glossaries, notes, book excerpts and commentaries on admiralty and maritime law.  Jim Thompson, a marine insurance professional, maintains the Marine Insurance Mega Site (www.insurance-marine.com).  It is an exceptional site where you will find links to every conceivable marine insurance resource.  Your writer publishes the Admiralty and Maritime Law Guide (www.admiraltylawguide.com), which includes over 1,500 annotated links to admiralty law resources on the Internet and a growing database of admiralty case digests and opinions, arbitration award abstracts and international maritime conventions.

 It may not be time to shut down the firm library, but you should be able to clear out rows of those seldom used, often expensive and now redundant books and publications that cautious attorneys tend to keep around "just in case."

* This article appeared in the Fall 2001 issue of the Tulane Maritime Law Alumni Newsletter.
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