Wednesday 29 February 2012

Maritime "Carriage of Coinage Laws"? Wassat, then?

The endearing characteristic of US Coiney lawyerism is its ability to surprise. Washington lawyer Peter Tompa has a post admonishing that the "archaeologists" are wrong to have "pitched Spain's win in the Odyssey Marine Case as win for archaeology over the commercial exploitation of shipwrecks" (as if they all did, I wrote all the time of salvage law). This is because of some "carriage of coinage rules" (sic), because "the decision was in fact narrowly based on the fact that a Spanish warship carried the treasure, i.e., archaeological arguments were not result determinative". Ummm, duh. Yes, that is what the case was about, whether the state of Spain had abandoned the property. No, it had not, so Odyssey had no right taking other people's property off a Spanish warship and apparently hope they could bluff their way through the US court system and keep it. It seems OMEX has learnt its lesson and (rightly or wrongly from the preservation point of view) has entered a "partnership" with the British government over the Sussex and Victory. The British government seem fond of entering "partnerships" with Treasure hunters. The British government has not abandoned its property in the form of the ships and what they had on board, but Odyssey will be removing the latter with permission. Not like they did when they found the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes.

So, maybe Mr Tompa would like to explain what these "carriage of coinage" laws consist of, and how they differ from the Law of the Sea on salvage.

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