Sources of Shipping Law

Sources of law are the authorities from which the law is made: the constitution of a
State, its statutes, government regulations, and the well-recognized maritime uses and customs.
Although international maritime conventions are an essential tool to achieve uniformity,
there are other instruments that, even though they are private documents,
the maritime community accepts as uniform rules of conduct in solving shipping
problems. The difference between the convention and the document is that the
convention is a treaty signed by States and therefore carries with it international
obligations. The shipping document is a private instrument and is therefore binding
only if agreed by the contractual parties (pacta sunt servanda).

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