What kind of law do you practice?
Admiralty law and general maritime law –
Admiralty law is an ancient body of law that history has crafted beginning as early as 900 BC in order to regulate shipping between and among the city states. As early as the 1100s seaman, for instance, were provided what we now know as “maintenance and cure” (a duty owed without fault) by the ship owners if they were injured on board or in the furtherance of their duties to the ship owner. Although some use the terms admiralty and maritime interchangeably, even today there are important distinctions.
Admiralty comes from the English Admiralty courts that governed shipping regulations and laws of the vast United Kingdom. Justices, “In Admiralty”, would govern over maritime disputes, including vessel ownership, cargo disputes, seaman wage issues, pirate actions, naval seizures ,injuries; those courts would have different rules for Admiralty as opposed to general causes of action.
These distinctions survived to be adopted in the United States after the Revolution. In fact up until 1966, the federal courts of the United States had separate rules of procedure “In Admiralty” than in other actions – the rules were “unified”, but there still exists supplemental rules section for e.g. seizure of a vessel in port if you’ve be injured or have another dispute with the vessel . That way the US Marshall’s office can keep (seize) the vessel in port until the ship makes arrangement to make good on their debts.
The federal courts still retain exclusive admiralty jurisdiction under the US Constitution. A lawyer or claimant must beware, however, as if you r case is in federal court, and you file it in Admiralty, you could be limited to a trial before the Court not a jury.
General Maritime Law governs all nautical issues and private maritime disputes. It consists of both domestic law on maritime activities, and private international law governing the relationships between private parties operating vessels (as described above) on navigable waters.