Does 2024 Supreme Court Decision Reshape Maritime Contract Law: The Impact of Great Lakes Insurance SE v. Raiders Retreat Realty

Posted by John K. Fulweiler | Feb 22, 2024 | 0 Comments

BREAKING:  The U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision in Great Lakes Insurance SE v. Raiders Retreat Realty Co., LLC addresses the enforceability of choice-of-law clauses in maritime contracts, particularly focusing on whether such clauses can be invalidated if enforcing them would contradict the strong public policy of the state whose law is displaced. This case originated from an insurance dispute over a vessel, raising questions about whether Pennsylvania or New York law should apply to the dispute.

The vessel's owner (Raiders Retreat Realty) suffered a loss and filed a claim with Great Lakes Insurance to cover all risks for physical damage to their maritime vessel.  Great Lakes Insurance denied coverage based on the condition of fire extinguishers on board, leading to a legal battle over the applicable law for the contract dispute. The Third Circuit had suggested that choice-of-law provisions might not be enforceable if they contradict strong public policy of the displaced state, in this case, Pennsylvania. The Supreme Court's review of this case could have significant implications for the enforcement of choice-of-law provisions in maritime contracts and potentially influence broader aspects of contract law.

Choice-of-law provisions are scary!  Always (always) speak to your maritime lawyer about these issues.  A good maritime lawyer will know some ways to challenge choice-of-law provisions.  Plus, in some instances like with crew injury claims, choice-of-law provisions are vulnerable to attack.

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About the Author

John K. Fulweiler

Proctor-In-Admiralty / Licensed U.S. Coast Guard Master Formerly a partner in a New York maritime law firm, John K. Fulweiler graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a Marine Affairs degree and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law. In addition to being recognized by...


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