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Black Letter Approach in Maritime Transportation Legal Research

Research purpose

The key purpose of this research is to provide a critical interpretation of such concepts as laytime and its application to maritime law. It is necessary to focus on the following aspects:

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  1. the commencement of laytime;
  2. demurrage claims,
  3. circumstances exempting from demurrage claims.

There are three most important questions that this paper should address.

  1. The application of NOR (Notice of Readiness) to the commencement of laytime.
  2. The determination of demurrage claims and ways of solving the disputes between a shipowner and a charterer.
  3. The circumstances, exempting the charter from paying demurrage losses to the shipowner.

Some other issues are closely related to these questions namely the validity of NOR, the arrival of the vessel in the port, the concept of readiness. These issues are crucial for our understanding of laytime. The major task is to examine already-existing legal acts and case law to answer each of these questions. These issues have long been of significant importance for international trade and international arbitrage. The analysis of laws, court rulings, and charters will give us insights into contemporary interpretations of laytime. The findings of this research can be utilized by policymakers and by people, who are engaged in maritime trade. It should be noted that while analyzing these issues, we will rely on the so-called black letter approach attaches primary importance to accurate interpretation of the text. The main rationale for choosing this framework is that it views the legal system as a self-sufficient entity that is not subjected to political or economic considerations. This is the main reason why it has been chosen for this study.

Research strategy

This study will derive information from the following sources

  1. existing maritime laws and
  2. court rulings that have shaped the existing legislation, for instance, Nielsen v. Wait, Saxon SS. Com v. Union SS. Co, British and Mexican Shipping Co. Ltd. v. Lockett Brothers, El Oldendorff & Co GmbH v Tradax Export SA, etc (Summerskill, p 24).

Each of these decisions created precedents that are nowadays reflected in maritime laws and used in arbitrage. These court rulings will enable us to gain a better understanding of laytime, demurrage claims, and ways of solving such disputes. These are the sources of primary data.

While conducting this research, we will also greatly rely on different charters that describe the rights of ship-owners and charterers, for instance, TANKERVOY and the Asbatankvoy charter. These sources are particularly helpful for the determination of demurrage claims. The examination of charters will help us explain when these claims are valid and when they can be rejected. It is worth mentioning that the interpretations offered by different charters do not always coincide with one another and it is vital to find at least some similarities between these contract forms.

Furthermore, this study will draw information from academic books and articles dedicated to the topic of discussion. These books and articles can be viewed as sources of secondary data. By analyzing these sources, we will be able to construct the definition of laytime and explain when demurrage claims can be substantiated and when a charterer is not responsible for the losses sustained by a shipowner.

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Black letter approach

The black letter approach will be adopted during this study. This method relies primarily on the close adherence to the normative text. Overall, this research methodology is based on the premise that it is possible to construct a doctrine from separate legal documents (Vranken, 94). The researcher, who adopts this methodology, has to regard law as a separate and self-sufficient entity that must not be impacted by some external factors. The key advantage of this approach is that it emphasizes the objective description of primary sources and enables the researcher to separate legal analysis from political, economic, or moral judgments (Salter & Mason, 111). Even though the black letter approach has often been criticized for the lack of attention to economic issues and moral implications. However, it does enable us to gain an understanding of the existing legal framework. One should take into consideration that the black letter approach is viewed as rigid and dogmatic, but at the same time, it offers a clear-cut interpretation of normative texts. This methodology is quite suitable for this study since it accurately describes a modern state of the legislature.

In the previous section, we have already described the sources which will be used in the course of this research. While discussing the notions of laytime and demurrage claim, we will attach the highest importance to primary sources, existing laws, and court rulings. By comparing these primary sources, we will manage to give a comprehensive definition of laytime, including its major elements such as commencements, duration, and demurrage claims. Additionally, the analysis of normative texts will allow us to identify those circumstances when a charterer can be exempted from demurrage claims.

Works Cited

Salter Michael. & Mason Julie. Writing law dissertations: an introduction and guide to the conduct of legal research. NY: Pearson Education. 2007. Print.

Summerskill. Michael. Laytime. NY: Taylor & Francis. 1989. Print.

Vranken. J. B. Exploring the jurist’s frame of mind: constraints and preconceptions in civil law argumentation. Kluwer. 2006. Print.

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