Policy and regulatory perspectives on shipping

Authored by: Laticia Argenti , Thomas Wakeman

The Routledge Companion to Network Industries

Print publication date:  November  2015
Online publication date:  November  2015

Print ISBN: 9781138782822
eBook ISBN: 9781315768984
Adobe ISBN: 9781317668084


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Maritime trade, or shipping, was one of the world’s first network enterprises. A network industry is one in which the enterprise or its products consists of many interconnected nodes, where the node is a unit of the firm or its product, and connections among the nodes define the character of commerce in the industry (Gottinger, 2003). Maritime shipping is used to move people, goods, services, and information. Transportation is a demand-derived service that not only facilitates trade and communication, but historically has also facilitated cultural exchange of ideas. Maritime transportation enterprises began simply with individuals who owned cargo and hired ships to move it to a location that had a market demand. Over time, the enterprises came to be governed by small kingdoms or city-states, which grew into wealthy nations with strong merchant and trading classes (Paulsen, 1983). Often, cargo owners traveled with their goods on for-hire ships; however, in time, it became impractical for shippers to continue this practice, so they sought legal assurances, through contracts, that their cargo would be delivered undamaged and intact. This was the beginning of an energetic maritime jurisprudence forming around the private commercial transactions surrounding the carriage of goods by ships (Reynolds, 1990). However, vessel owners and their insurers were often treated more favorably than merchants by the various local maritime courts, so cargo owners began looking to governments to assist in developing international codes to govern trading transactions. What appeared to be mostly private law became a matter of public interest, and the body of maritime law grew to regulate cargo handling and shipmasters, cargo owners, and marine insurer interests.

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