Towards a Modern Definition of Piracy


Recently I wrote about Judge Raymond Jackson’s opinion on buccaneering. Now Judge Mark S Davis offers a succinct definition of modern piracy. His analysis is well worth reading. The opinion’s objective was to found an understanding of modern piracy for current and future cases. I think it will do so. The opinion is important because it brings clarity to the litigation worldwide.

Judge Davis started by reviewing the factual and procedural background and legal standard for dismissing. In so doing he obliquely referred to Judge Jackson’s decision. Judge Davis asked for the defendants: “What is the definition of piracy under the law of nations?”

The defence in its arguments had relied on Judge Jackson’s reasoning of the 1920 piracy statute and US v Smith, 18 US 5 (Wheat.) 153 (1820) and a few other supportive cases, some on analysis in apposite. Defence and bench presumed the rule of statutory interpretation was to read the statute contemporaneous with its enactment. In Smith, robbery was an essential part of the piracy statute of 1820.

Please see full article below for more information.

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John A. C. Cartner
Cartner & Fiske, LLC

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