Dr. Maximiliano Navas recently successfully defended his doctoral thesis on the essential obligation of ensuring the seaworthiness of vessel within international Maritime Law.
The university event took place at the Faculty of Law of the University of Seville on the 2nd of July. It involved a Board made up of highly prestigious professors of commercial and maritime law from centres close to where we are: Prof. Dr. D. Guillermo Jiménez Sánchez (former vice-president of the Constitutional Court, Univ. of Seville); Prof. Dr. D. José Luis Gabaldón García (Charles III University of Madrid); Prof. Dr. D. Juan Carlos Sáenz García de Albizu (Public University of Navarre); Prof. Dr. D. Alberto Emparanza Sobejano (University of the Basque Country); Prof. Dr. D. Miguel Ángel Pendón Meléndez (University of Cádiz).
Dr Navas’ professional experience is within both legal and nautical environments. Doubtless it is this academic training and that has led him in such a natural manner to study in depth this essential obligation of ship-owners. And from the sailor’s point of view, we can certainly affirm that it is “the main obligation”.
Dr. Maximiliano Navas first came into contact with Maritime Law in 1985, when he was studying for a BSc degree in Nautical Sciences, (Univ. of Cádiz). This was when he observed the practical importance that this obligation has. Then he took an interest in the topic for his end-of-degree project (“The system of liability for marine carriers within the Spanish Commercial Code. Special reference to the seaworthiness of vessels”). He completed his academic technical training by passing the Advanced Marine Surveyor’s Course (INESE, Kingdom of Spain). He received the Master Mariner certificate for the work he presented to the Faculty of Nautical Sciences of the University of Cádiz for the Spanish Merchant Navy Captain’s examination. (This was entitled “A safety and emergency management manual for merchant freezer vessels, ISM Code”).
After sailing in gas tankers (LNG) and freezer vessels, Dr Navas worked on shore as a marine surveyor and nautical inspector. He completed his law degree with a Maritime Law Master (LLB and LLM) in 1993. Throughout all of these years, he remained very interested in the obligation of seaworthiness. He did not lose sight at any time of the concept of maritime and vessel safety, the central theme of the first part of his seaworthiness of vessel doctoral thesis (PhD).
Seaworthiness of vessel concept
Seaworthiness is, in broad terms, the good state and conditionthat a vessel in particular has to have in order to be involved in transportation or any other maritime activity. That is to say, the “special suitability and fitness, from all objective and subjective standpoints, a vessel should have. It needs this in order to carry out the proposed maritime activity or transportation safely, effectively and efficiently”. The safety of the vessel is at the heart of the obligation of seaworthiness. However, it may be seen that the suitability or good state and fit condition that is required also refers to other aspects. Some of these are connected with effectiveness for a given service (a public law concept or aspect). Others are to do with the ability to fulfil the aim proposed (the private law concept of seaworthiness). As has sometimes been maintained, this concept is clearly the “key to the system of maritime safety”. In practice, it is no more or less than the “Achilles Heel” of some substandard vessels and negligent ship-owners.
I would go so far as to say, without fear of contradiction, that this legal form or concept should be considered the “central axis of Maritime Law”. This view is based on many hours of reflection during my research.
The paper, “The seaworthiness of vessels within international Maritime Law”, presenting and defending the above-mentioned doctoral thesis, is available for download. A PDF containing the index and introduction to the work can also be downloaded via the following link: “The seaworthiness of vessels within international Maritime Law”.
A database containing more than 1000 resolutions and rulings from courts throughout the entire world is attached to the thesis. It is organised in the form of an advanced on-line case law search system relating to the seaworthiness of vessels.
For more information on the services that GMM Maritime Shipping Solicitors provides, go to the Legal Services section on the main menu. From there click through to Maritime Law, Seaworthiness and unseaworthiness of vessels.
By Maximiliano Navas