Maritime Contract Law and Legal Definition

Maritime contract refers to a contract relating to a vessel. Maritime contracts are distinct from general contracts. Maritime contract is an agreement pertaining to the operation, navigation, maintenance, and repair or provisioning of a vessel. An action on maritime contract falls within the ambit of the admiralty jurisdiction. The admiralty court can make a legal interpretation of the maritime contract when there is any ambiguity in its language. However, under federal maritime law, a court may not look beyond the written language of the document to determine the intent of the parties unless the disputed contract provision is ambiguous. In reviewing maritime contracts to see if their written language is ambiguous, the court interprets their meaning with respect to their normal and everyday meaning. In the absence of any evidence or argument from the parties as to how to resolve the ambiguity, the court adheres to the principle that an ambiguous provision in a maritime contract is to be construed against the drafter.[In re the Complaint of Johnson, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2987 (S.D. Ala. Jan. 17, 2006)]