Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Admiralty Definition:

Law or judicial body having to do with, or jurisdiction over, shipping and use of the sea.

Related Terms: Maritime Law, Court of Admiralty

Law or judicial body having to do with, or jurisdiction over, shipping and the sea.

In reference to the body of law, some jurisdictions prefer the plain language term maritime law and, historically, the domain was also referred to as marine law.

Halsbury's Laws of England describes the evolution of this branch of the law as first in regards to criminal offences committed on the "high seas" (eg. piracy); then assuming jurisdiction over "all civil matters connected with the sea", and then "matters arising in inland tidal waters" and, finally, "to things done upon the sea and in the main streams of great rivers to the seaward side of bridges".

In England, where the term admiralty law continues even where, in most other jurisdictions, the term maritime law has come to replace it, the Court of Admiralty:

"... is concerned mainly with questions and claims arising in relation to ships (and) hovercrafts and, in respect to certain questions and claims, also to aircraft."

shipping stampAs shipping and transportation by sea of goods and passengers is a unique and complex area of the law, chock full of tradition and international law overtones, esoteric to those familiar only to domestic law, responsibility for its implementation and enforcement is frequently given to a specialized bench or an admiralty court.


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