Regardless of whether the Nova Star is labeled as a “ferry” or “cruise” or a hybrid of the two, legal questions remain concerning application of law and jurisdiction to a foreign vessel traveling daily between two foreign ports during the summer months. The law forming the backdrop to possible legal claims is shaped by general maritime law, the laws of a vessel’s origin, state regulations, and a United States federal statute originating in 1920. The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, better known as the Jones Act, regulates maritime law and commerce in United States ports and between United States and foreign ports, and further provides legal claims for workers at sea. As this comment discusses further, the law that an employee or passenger falls under changes fluidly with uncertainty based upon several factors, including their role on the vessel, the location of circumstance that gave rise to their claim, and the origin of the vessel. These sometimes overlapping and sometimes conflicting laws already have an impact on how vessels like the Nova Star operate and could have an even further impact on the pending life of the Nova Star, including implications on wages, on-board injury, and liability. This comment addresses the struggles facing an international ferry in northeast North America, the issue of legal application of jurisdictional law touched by an international ferry, and the ferry’s likelihood of success. Part II provides a background of international ferries, particularly those that have serviced the coastline between Canada and Maine. It then discusses the revival of the Nova Star and its current state, and the international relations between the United States and Canada, as well as Maine and Nova Scotia. Part III delves deeper into the current state of the law surrounding a round-trip maritime route between Canadian and U.S. ports and the legal remedies available for those aboard the ferry. Part III further analyzes the factor determination employed by the courts and discusses whether the remedies would be available for a ferry cruise service like the Nova Star, given the competing laws at hand. Part IV concludes with a recommendation for clearer and more consistent application of maritime choice of law determinations to those employed on international ferries, made available through either judicial or legislative action.
Nova Scarred: The Implications of an International Ferry's Floating Jurisdiction on the Law of the Sea, the Lands, and the Flag,
Ocean & Coastal L.J.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.mainelaw.maine.edu/oclj/vol21/iss1/12