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Maritime Law

Research work on maritime law is the traditional main area at the Scandinavian Institute of Maritime Law and today the main area for the Maritime Department. Maritime law focuses on all the legal aspects relating to a ship.

The Norwegian Maritime Code is central to the study of Maritime Law. Photo: UiO.

Areas covered

Areas covered are international law, EU-law, public law and private law connected to shipping. Areas of research are traditionally weighted towards private law such as contract law and tort. This includes different types of contracts connected with building, repairs, sale and operation of ships and tort rules in repect of the ship, especially in connection with oil spills. In addition, there is a focus on international regulations connected to the registration and safety control of ships.

In recent times, the areas of research have been expanded in diverse directions. In the first place, competition law connected to shipping has been added. Secondly, rules connected to safety at sea have been added, including EU law and environmental issues. Thirdly and finally, issues connected with infrastructure in the transport sector are examined too. This will include both EU laws and rules connected to the management and operations of the infra structure and questions relating to risk and responsibility in respect of tortuous events. 

A central part of legislation for maritime law is the Norwegian maritime law and one of the professors at NIFS acts as the chairperson in the law committee.


  • Safety at sea project (sjøsikkerhetsprosjektet)
  • Development of mandatory reading about charter parties in the offshore sector.
  • Research assistant Sofie Vikse delivered autumn 2011 a thesis on "Senders duties and responsibilities over the carrier in the transport of dangerous goods - a comparison of present laws with the Rotterdam rules." 
  • Research assistant Ingrid Bjørke Larsen wrote her thesis on the State’s  liability for the coast services navigation services (completed in 2012).
  • Research assistant Lars Erik Schjeide investigated coastal services responsibility and liability by acute pollution or danger of this (completed in 2012).

Programme and Topics


  • The Council of Ministers has a grant of about 3 million kroner per year to operations and research.
  • The Research Council of Norway and The Norwegian Coastal Administration support the Safety at sea project.
  • Eckbo-fondet has a grant of kr 300.000 per year for maritime law research.
  • Jantzen-fondet donates funds in respect of the compendium on offshore charters.


The department for maritime law at NIFS has a continuing programme of co- operation with the transport law environment in in Åbo, Helsinki, Gothenburg, Stockholm, Copenhague and Odense. The department has a staff member  at professor II-level from Copenhagen who specializes in transport law. The department also works with the University of Helsinki on an international transport project, the InterTran-project. The safety at sea project co-operates with the consultant firm DNV proNavis.

The department of maritime law has established a European Colloquium for Maritime Law Research, which has an international seminar every other year. It has up till now held six seminars by five different maritime law institutes n Europe (Oslo, Southampton, Bologna, Nantes, Athens and Swansea). We have in recent times established an International Biannual Colloquium in Maritime Law (IBCML) in co-operation with universities in Southampton and Tulane. This co-operation has resulted in the arrangement of seminars   in Southampton and Tulane.

For now we have a tight co-operation with Nordisk Defence Club and various other law firms,  particularly BAHR, Thommessen. Vogt Wiig  and  Wikborg Rein, when it comes to coaching, guidance, teaching and seminars. Also,  the Institute works with the industry through membership in the board of the Norwegian Maritime Law Association.


Published Dec. 20, 2011 3:41 PM - Last modified Apr. 22, 2022 4:11 PM


Trine-Lise Wilhelmsen

Professor - head of the institute