Chapter I: Introduction: piracy, law and lawyers
This book considers the legal challenges posed by piracy, and in doing so attempts to bring together the perspectives of both public and private lawyers. These two groups of practitioners and scholars have a number of common interests when it comes to piracy, but frequently risk speaking past rather than with each other. One aim of the present book is to considering piracy ‘in the round’: to examine piracy in context and from both public and private law perspectives. The substantive chapters of this book are therefore divided into three parts: Part I deals with piracy in context, Part II considers the legal issues from the perspective of state and government actors, and Part III examines the law as it relates to private actors. Each of these sections is outlined below. The aim is to examine a selection of key questions in detail, while remaining through- out as accessible as possible to the non-specialist. A preliminary distinction to make is one of definition. When we discuss piracy, are we always talking about the same thing? The simple answer that emerges from this volume is ‘no’. First, viewed in context, every major instance of piracy is always factually different – piracy is a single label for a diverse phenomenon which is highly contingent on local conditions. Second, lawyers do not have a single definition of piracy. For the public international lawyer, piracy principally refers to an act of violence, detention or depredation committed on the high seas by a private vessel against another vessel for private ends.