Admiralty law is a branch of the law governing the laws of the sea. Although this branch of the law is often used interchangeably, it originally refers to the judicial courts of the English and American colonies that were specifically tasked with deciding disputes concerning maritime contracts and torts. The definition of admiralty law has expanded to encompass any loss or damage incurred in navigable waters. Here are some examples of cases that fall under the purview of admiralty law.
International Maritime Organization: The International Maritime Organization was established in 1958 and has been responsible for preparing many international conventions governing the safety and welfare of maritime commerce. Some of these conventions require ships to carry certificates proving their compliance with their requirements. Those certificates may include safety or environmental standards. International shipping conventions are often referred to as “International Maritime Law” and are implemented by member states. Some countries also have jurisdiction over ships registered in their countries.
Federal court: Maritime law cases are usually brought in federal court. However, plaintiffs can file suit in state courts as well. This is the case in certain types of maritime actions, such as claims to partition ownership of a ship after an accident, or to limit a shipowner’s liability to the value of the vessel after a major incident. While federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over certain types of maritime cases, most cases can be filed in state courts.