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n. concerning activities which occur at sea, including on small boats and ships innavigable bays. Admiralty law (maritime law) includes accidents and injuries at sea, maritime contracts and commerce, alleged violations of rules of the sea over shipping lanes and rights-of-way, and mutiny and other crimes on shipboard. Jurisdiction over all these matters rests in the Federal Courts, which do not use juries in admiralty cases. There are other special rules in processing maritime cases, which are often handled by admiralty law specialists. Lawyers appearing in admiralty cases are called "proctors." (See: maritime law)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

ADMIRALTY. The name of a jurisdiction which takes cognizance of suits or actions which arise in consequence of acts done upon or relating to the sea; or, in other words, of all transactions and proceedings relative to commerce and navigation, and to damages or injuries upon the sea. 2 Gall. R. 468. In the great maritime nations of Europe, the term "admiralty jurisdiction," is, uniformly applied to courts exercising jurisdiction over maritime contracts and concerns. It is as familiarly known among the jurists of Scotland, France, Holland and Spain, as of England, and applied to their own courts, possessing substantially the same jurisdiction as the English Admiralty had in the reign of Edward III. Ibid., and the authorities there cited; and see, also, Bac. Ab. Court of Admiralty; Merl. Repert. h.t. Encyclopedie, h.t.; 1 Dall. 323.
     2. The Constitution of the United States has delegated to the courts of the national government cognizance "of all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction;" and the act of September 24, 1789, ch. 20 s. 9, has given the district court" cognizance of all civil causes of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction," including all seizures under laws of imposts, navigation or trade of the United States, where the seizures are made on waters navigable from the sea, by vessels of ten or more tons burden, within their respective districts, as well as upon the high seas.
     3. It is not within the plan of this work to enlarge upon this subject.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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