How do criminals exploit maritime law?


Criminals exploit maritime law in multiple ways to commit unlawful activities with minimal repercussions. This is facilitated by the legal anomalies specific to maritime law, such as auctions, in rem claims (against the ship itself), and flags of convenience.

Auctions and Legal Loopholes: In maritime law, a seized ship can be auctioned with the new owner receiving a clean title, regardless of the ship’s previous ownership disputes. This legal provision, originally intended to simplify maritime property rights centuries ago, now allows criminals to hijack ships and auction them off, giving the buyer a legitimate title. This system is challenging to change due to international shipping complexities and is a preferred business model for modern-day pirates who operate under the guise of legality 1.

In Rem Claims: Under maritime law, legal actions are unique in that they are directed at the ship itself, not its owner. This means a ship can be impounded, and if no one represents it legally, it loses by default. This practice, where the ship serves as both the defendant and the asset against which claims are settled, is exploited by shipping bandits who understand how to navigate these legal waters 1.

Flags of Convenience: Criminal operations also leverage the system of flags of convenience, where ships are registered under a country that offers lenient regulations and minimal oversight (e.g., Liberia and Panama). This system allows ship operators to engage in illegal activities such as environmental violations or evading labor laws, with little risk of enforcement by the flagging authority. After paying registration fees, ship operators are virtually free to carry out their operations unchecked 2.

These systemic flaws in maritime law provide criminals with avenues to operate ships with few legal consequences, often exploiting outdated or overly complex international maritime regulations.

Maritime Law Racket

Jordan and Captain Max discuss the loopholes in maritime law that allow criminals to seize and auction off ships, leaving the original owners with no recourse. They explore the unique nature of maritime law and how it can be exploited by bandits as a business model.

The Jordan Harbinger Show

896: Captain Max Hardberger | The Man Who Steals Ships from Pirates