Three Things You Don't Know About Admiralty Jurisdiction

Posted by John K. Fulweiler | May 22, 2013 | 0 Comments

Us maritime lawyers often engage in pitched battles over whether a claim or contract is subject to the Court's admiralty jurisdiction. Here are three general comments on admiralty jurisdiction that we suspect are not well known:

  • When the Court's admiralty jurisdiction is invoked the substantive body of admiralty law and its many unique legal procedures come into play and, with some exceptions, its presence displaces state law;
  • In very broad terms, whether a claim arising from harm you suffered (i.e. a "maritime tort") is subject to admiralty jurisdiction largely depends on whether it occurred on navigable waters. (There are other requirements, but the navigable waters element is a heavy-weight consideration.); and
  • A jury trial is generally not available in an admiralty proceeding, although there are specific instances where the right to a jury trial may be preserved such as with a Jones Act claim, or, a claim involving an injured passenger.

And for a bonus, we note that a contract to build a vessel is generally not subject to the Court's admiralty jurisdiction.

Underway and making way.

By John K Fulweiler

Fulweiler llc

About the Author

John K. Fulweiler

Proctor-In-Admiralty / Licensed U.S. Coast Guard Master Formerly a partner in a New York maritime law firm, John K. Fulweiler graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a Marine Affairs degree and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law. In addition to being recognized by...


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