‘Admiralty’ and ‘Maritime’ are almost synonyms.
Maritime law is wider.
There is no statutory definition.
It may vary from country to country.
Admiralty 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
Introduced by British
Lord High Admiral & other Admirals were in-
They were sole maritime authorities.
Later a separate Admiralty court was set up.
Rivalry between Common Law Courts & Courts of
Therefore in 1389 act was passed which limited the
High Courts of Admiralty to disputes occurring on sea
The Courts lost their importance in 17th and 18th
In 1840 the British Parliament enacted Admiralty
In 1861, The Indian Admiralty Act was enacted.
This act extended the jurisdiction of Admiralty
Court by including cases of ‘damage by ship’ and the
provision that an aggrieved party can move
The Admiralty Court to exercise its jurisdiction over
There were further acts in 1873 & 1920.
In 1925 a Consolidation Act was passed.
There have been improvements through 1956 &
1981 Supreme court act.
DEVELOPMENT OF ADMIRALTY
MATTERS IN INDIA
Major Courts were at Madras, Bombay & Calcutta.
In 1774 supreme Court was established at Calcutta.
In 1861 High courts were established in three cities.
The Colonial Courts of Admiralty act was passed
which was meant for British colonies.
The 1891 act of Colonial Court of Admiralty
declared three High courts of as Admiralty Court.
At present the three courts continue to exercise as
Limitations in matter of arrest & detention.
MV ELISABETH VS. HARVAN INVESTMENTS
Appellant – MV Elisabeth ORS.
Respondent- Harvan Investments.
The vessel left the port without issuing Bill of Lading.
Despite the direction of respondent co. not to deliver the
goods as the buyer had not made payment the appellant
handed over the goods.
Since the appellant was in breach of duty the respondent
filed a suit against the the appellants invoking the
admiralty jurisdiction of the Andhra Pradesh High Court .
The ship was arrested when it entered Vishakapatnam port.
In the proceedings the appellant raised a preliminary
Stating that the suit against a foreign ship owned by a
foreign company not having a place of residence or
business in India, could not proceed on the admiralty side
of the High Court.
The objection was overruled by the judge.
Andhra High Court was SUCCESSOR of Madras High
Court which had Admiral Jurisdiction under the English
Act 1861 & Colonial courts of Admiralty Act 1890.
The High Court of Andhra Pradesh undoubtedly possesses
jurisdiction over claims relating to inward and outward
cargo. Therefore the High Court rightly assumed
jurisdiction by the arrest of the appellant vessel
In the end Supreme court passed judgment clarifying that
all the high courts in India have Admiralty Jurisdiction
uninhibited by limitations.
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