Suppose my one-person boat sinks and I escape in my life raft. Later, party X comes along and offers to rescue me. Suppose, for whatever reason, I don't want to go with X.

Question: Am I obliged to accept X's offer anyway?

Related issues it would also be interesting to know: Is X obliged to insist upon it? What if I died?--Could X be held responsible? If not, how could X prove I refused?

N.B. better tagging would be appreciated.


Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,

"Every State shall require the master of a ship flying its flag, in so far as he can do so without serious danger to the ship, the crew or the passengers to render assistance to any person found at sea in danger of being lost, to proceed with all possible speed to the rescue of persons in distress, if informed of their need of assistance, in so far as such action may reasonably be expected of him, and after a collision, to render assistance to the other ship, its crew and its passengers and, where possible, to inform the other ship of the name of his own ship, its port of registry and the nearest port at which it will call."

So the obligation to assist and carve outs to it will depend on the specific domestic maritime law of the state parties to the convention and how they implement their treaty obligation and punish violations of their domestic law.

Realistically, of course, a jurisdiction will be unlikely to prosecute a captain whose aid is explicitly rejected in front of witnesses, especially if there would be any danger to his crew in trying to assist against someone's will.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.