English court that tries and gives judgement in maritime cases. The court is now incorporated within the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court and deals with such matters as salvage and damages arising from collisions between ships.
The Admiralty Court also sits as a prize court, in which capacity it has jurisdiction in matters of capture in port or on land if the capture has been effected by a naval force or a mixed naval and military force. The court can also try any questions referred to it by the Privy Council concerning booty of war; that is, property captured by land forces.
The Scottish Court of Admiralty lost its prize jurisdiction to the English Court of Admiralty in 1825, and in 1830 its civil and criminal jurisdiction was transferred respectively to the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary. The maritime law of Scotland is the same as that of England.
By the US constitution, as interpreted by the US Supreme Court, admiralty jurisdiction extends not only to the high seas but to the great lakes and rivers connecting them and to all public navigable waters in the USA. The states long ago delegated the jurisdiction of their old vice-admiralty courts to the federal government. This jurisdiction comprises all maritime contracts, torts, injuries, or offences. The Supreme Court has no original jurisdiction in admiralty cases, all suits being in the first instance brought in the US district courts. An appeal on both law and fact lies from the latter courts to the circuit court of appeals, and this appeal is final except in cases touching the jurisdiction of the court, the construction of a treaty, cases of prize, the constitutionality of a state or federal law, and cases of infamous crime, when the right of appeal is direct to the Supreme Court. The admiralty courts have jurisdiction also in cases of piracy and collision and over crimes and offences committed upon the sea within the administration and maritime jurisdiction of the USA.
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