Marine salvage : from Rhodian law to Lloyd's open form, 2000.
The origins of marine salvage law may be traced to a code of Rhodian Sea laws promulgated in 500BC. Presently, while salvage law retains the foundations of this early codification, it has undergone a complete metamorphosis in order to adapt to changing circumstances and new challenges of the 20th and 21st century. Over the past few decades there have been many major oil spills. When they occurred each spill, for different reasons was declared as the most environmentally damaging. In their wake, they leave a trail of death and destruction of the eco-system. As public concern for and awareness of the marine environment increases, governments and salvors face increased pressure to avert wide-scale pollution. In these instances, the stakes are high and the necessity and effectiveness of professional salvage only too clear. This study investigates the role played by the professional salvor and considers how the developments in the law have impacted upon the salvor's role in salvage operations. This work has its genesis with this background in mind. It is essentially a study of the changes and developments in the law of Marine Salvage. The law relating to salvage is dynamic and international in nature. Dynamic in that it needs to adapt to new economic and environmental factors. This study examines and explains how these economic and environmental factors impacted upon and necessitated changes to the law of salvage. It is international, in that salvage operations invariably involve parties from different countries. In some instances of large-scale pollution disasters the physical environment affected may encompass different countries/waters. At times the discussion into the practical aspects of the salvage operations, salvage tugs and the industry as a whole has a tendency to become rather technical. For this I make no apology, for the world of marine salvage has totally fascinated and captured my attention. In the international context the law relating to Salvage may be found in the International Convention on Salvage 1989. Many countries have ratified the convention and have subsequently enacted their own statutes based on the provisions of the Salvage convention. Other countries like South Africa have chosen not to ratify the convention and have formulated their own Statutes relating to the salvage. The salvage laws of the United Kingdom are perhaps mostly widely used. Its popularity may be attributed to London being the salvage arbitration capital of the world as well as the influential use of LOF in salvage operations which stipulates English law as the lex contractus. The United Kingdom has ratified the International Salvage Convention and enacted the Merchant Shipping (Salvage and Pollution) Act 1994 which gave effect to the provisions of the convention. The current statute regulating Salvage is the Merchant Shipping Act of 1995. The principal focus of this work will be English law, as applied in the United Kingdom as well as South African law. Passing reference is also made to the provisions of American law where relevant.