With the new Maritime Code the legislator intended to bring together all relevant rules in one general and properly structured codification.
The Belgian legislator thus sought to make maritime law knowable and orderly.
The Code consists of 4 parts :
1. General provisions
2. Sea shipping
3. Inland navigation
The Code is divided in themes, without distinction between public and private law.
The purpose was to connect to shipping-reality and international trends, with a broad implementation of international treaties.
The code also contains public law and to that effect primarily is a coordination of existing law. Only the destitute Code of discipline and penal code of the Merchant marine and fishing of 1928 was thoroughly revised.
Because rules of sea shipping are applied in inland navigation it can be said that inland navigation law has been modernized, although where necessary its own specific rules were implemented.
The code embraces the singularity of maritime law by the codification of the principle self-regulation : the rules vested in usances are, as a matter of principle, accepted to be a source of (maritime) law.
With book 4 the legislator intended to achieve an improved enforcement of maritime public law.
The first encounter with the new Maritime Code brings many surprises, and it is already certain that the new provisions will give rise to rules which are wholly different (to what the legislator intended).
A first surprise for that matter was the futile search for provisions dealing with the bill of lading !
19 September 2020