The National Maritime Authority (DIMAR) recently published the first draft of what could become the new Colombian maritime code, causing widespread debate among professionals and academics.

The debate concerns whether enacting a new maritime regime is even necessary. At the domestic level, Colombian maritime law is now considered not only outdated, but in some cases contradictory. Thus, in recent years, DIMAR has been working hard on a project to modernise, optimise and centralise maritime law at the domestic level, an initiative which started under a project called Legal Strengthening of the Maritime Authority.

Following this project, DIMAR hired a group of experts to prepare a draft version of a unified maritime regime, which was finalised in 2018. The amended draft (including changes made by DIMAR to the original version) has now been formally published and is freely available on DIMAR's website.

DIMAR draft

The draft aims to consolidate the main regulations applicable to maritime activities at the domestic level in a single piece of legislation (ie, a maritime code).

For instance, it incorporates regulations on predictable subjects such as navigation-related issues, contracts for vessel exploitation and court procedures for resolving traditional maritime incidents (eg, collisions). Moreover, as it incorporates internationally accepted maritime legal parameters, it is designed to appeal to the international community, particularly third parties from countries with maritime trade relationships with Colombia.

The draft also incorporates several non-traditional yet relevant provisions from a domestic maritime law standpoint, including:

  • general principles of maritime law to be followed when applying the new code;
  • regulations on offshore activities, which are barely regulated at the international level; and
  • provisions relating to different types of shipping agent.

Importantly, the draft respects and sets out parameters followed by widely accepted and ratified international conventions.


DIMAR's recent draft of what could become the new Colombian maritime code will be keenly debated in the coming months. Arguably, there has been no better time in Colombian history in which to discuss and update the country's maritime laws at the domestic level.

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