Seafarer has specific rights under Finnish Maritime Code | Shipping law and Maritime in FINLAND
The Finnish Maritime Code has specific rules regarding e.g. jurisdiction, liability and applicability. Therefore to avoid confusion and to protect clients’ interests successfully in any legal proceeding in shipping cases it is essential to apply the Finnish Maritime Code (hereinafter “FMC”). In one of our latest cases we successfully argued in the District Court that the prosecutor had filed a criminal proceeding in a matter of collision of vessels in the District Court that did not have jurisdiction to review the matter.
After reviewing our procedural claim regarding jurisdiction the District Court and the prosecutor accepted it and the matter was transferred to the Maritime Court that has jurisdiction to review this type of cases.
Summary of the case
In the matter two vessels, a fishing vessel and a yacht collided on a head to head situation. The fishing vessel at the time conducted active fishing. Prosecutor filed the matter to the District Court that under Finnish Criminal Code would have jurisdiction to review the matter. The prosecutor argued that collision happened due to wrongful acts of the fishers as well as that conduct of due care was neglected and therefore criminal proceedings were initiated. At this point of the proceeding we do not describe the situation in more detail.
As the fishing in the matter was conducted in a professional manner the fishermen are to be seen as seafarers and therefore FMC shall apply. Under the rules of FMC the District Court where the matter was filed in a first place does not have jurisdiction to review this type of criminal matters. Therefore we presented a procedural claim arguing that in the case the prosecutor has filed the claim in the court that has no jurisdiction to review the matter. Our view was supported by the FMC, legal praxis (Supreme Court decisions) and legal literature.
Outcome of the procedural claim
As a result of our claim the District Court and the prosecutor accepted our lawyers’ claim regarding jurisdiction. The matter was transferred to the competent Maritime Court that is a specific section of the District Court. However, there are only limited amount of Maritime Courts in Finland, one in every Appeal Court district (altogether five in Finland). The criminal matter is to proceed in the Maritime Court.
Regarding rules of FMC | Shipping & Maritime
In similar cases like the presented one it is of essence to review thoroughly the applicable legislation as it might have a serious impact on the outcome of the case. When FMC is applicable it is possible to i.e. limit liability of damages under the rules of FMC. For example, the party of the head-to-head collision under FMC is able to or have right to limit its liability. Under the rules of FMC the liability of the parties is in general principle based on the fault of the parties (in proportion). In question regarding compensation in case of liability the rules of FMC are more favourable when applicable than the rules of the Finnish Tort Liability Act.
Further by succeeding in the claim we secured that shipping specialists review the matter in the Maritime Court. By this way good seamanship can be reviewed thoroughly in the matter as well as liability question.
Regarding the Maritime Court
It is to be pointed out that the Finnish Maritime Code contains specific rules e.g. regarding jurisdiction, liability and court occupation in matters related to mercantile shipping. When FMC applies the Maritime Court has jurisdiction to review these matters. The Maritime Court is not as such an independent court but rather a specific section of the District Court. The Maritime Court consist of a judge and two specialists in maritime issues (i.e. master mariner). By this way the Maritime Court has specific knowledge of maritime issues while reviewing maritime matters.
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* Please note that the above is not to be considered as a legal advise. Please contact our legal professionals for further information.