SMLA – Swiss Maritime Law Association

The SMLA is exclusively and directly a non-profit association whose purpose is the supporting of the development of Swiss and international maritime law. This includes the supporting of the development of the relevant Community law and the law of the Seas as well as inland waterway law.

Since the 1960s the SMLA served as a department of the Swiss Maritime Shipping Association (SVS). As such, the SMLA acted as Swiss platform of the worldwide active CMI and contributed actively, and to some extend leadingly, to various harmonization projects. In all these years the SMLA also supported the Swiss delegations at diplomatic conferences and within international UN-Organizations (IMO/UNCTAD/UNCITRAL) and therefore established close links to the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP) and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).

After more than 50 years of connection between the SMLA and the SVS the time was right in 2014 for the SMLA to become independent. Through this legal independence the SMLA is now able to act autonomous and independent and can position itself broader in a geographical, content related and member related sense. Nevertheless, the SMLA will work closely together with the SVS also in the future.

Our Goal

Development of the maritime law

The main task and at the same time also the main goal of the SMLA is the handling of the affairs of the CMI. Currently these are primarily the following:

  • Review of the rules on general average
  • Harmonization of the marine insurance law
  • Transfer of the project «Recognition of Foreign Judicial Sales of Ships» to the International Maritime Organization (IMO)
  • Evaluation of arbitration for maritime affairs

In addition the members of the SMLA (in cooperation with the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP) and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA)) will carry out in groups the respective consultation work for the public consultation process in the field of national and international trade law, in particular in the field of maritime and financial law.

Therefore the SMLA informs all members at least once a year about developments in Swiss and international maritime law. Representatives of the FDJP as well as the FDFA (Swiss Maritime Navigation Office) will be invited to assist.

Specific conferences

In addition at least once a year the SMLA organizes a conference dealing with a specific topic. This topic can relate to the topics of the CMI or represent an independent maritime law topic.

The first topic of such a conference will be the “Judicial Sales Convention”, which was designed in the course of the work of the CMI and presented to the IMO in early 2015.

Involvment and support of students and graduates

The SMLA aims to involve students and graduates of Swiss universities to carry out its work. Particularly Master’s students shall be given the possibility to present their Master’s theses in the field of maritime law to the SMLA and its working groups. In return the SMLA takes over the costs of a single membership in the association for three years.