Maritime law developed early on in history. Much of today's maritime laws derive from the Rules of Oleron, which Eleanor of Acquitaine had promulgated around 1160. In the United States, admiralty law evolved more directly from British admiralty courts, which were present in most of the American colonies and functioned separately from courts of law and equity. Because these admiralty courts did not include trial by jury, the British used them to enforce the unpopular Stamp Act, and thus were a factor in precipitating the American Revolution. Several central figures to the American Revolution were admiralty and maritime attorneys, including Alexander Hamilton in New York and John Adams in Massachusetts.
Parties generally have no right to trial by jury in admiralty cases before a U.S. federal court; however, the Jones Act permits jury trials for personal injury claims brought by a seaman. In state courts, maritime claims may be tried before juries. A state court hearing a maritime case must apply maritime law, even if the law conflicts with the law of the state.
In the United States, admiralty jurisdiction has expanded from just American tidal waters to any waters navigable within the United States for interstate or foreign commerce. In such waters, admiralty jurisdiction includes all maritime matters, even if they do not specifically involve interstate commerce, such as recreational boating.
Congress regulates admiralty under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution and federal courts have original jurisdiction over maritime matters. This power stems from the Judiciary Act of 1789 and from Article III, 2 of the U.S. Constitution. However, most parties may bring an admiralty case before a U.S. federal court or a state court.
Admiralty contract jurisdiction is perhaps even more nuanced. In general, a contract relating to a ship in its use as such, or to commerce or navigation on navigable waters, or to transportation by sea or to maritime employment, is subject to maritime law and the case is one of admiralty jurisdiction, whether the contract is to be performed on land or water.
Our admiralty and maritime attorneys have a long standing reputation of comprehensive legal representation from initial claims through trial, arbitration, and appeals. They assist maritime industry, shipyards, vessel builders, vessel owner, financial industry and insurance company clients with defending and prosecuting all phases of maritime injury and death claims (including, but not limited to Jones Act, Maintenance and Cure, Longshore and Harbor worker, and passengers), collisions and allisions, cargo claims, maritime lien claims, vessel arrests and attachments, vessel foreclosures, salvage, environmental claims, oil pollution claims, warranty claims, first-party insurance claims, vessel construction and repair claims, vessel documentation and titling issues, limitation of liability actions, preparation and drafting of charter parties, federal and state court litigation and appeals, U.S. Coast Guard administrative proceedings, and longshoreman and harbor worker proceedings.
Schoenbaum's Admiralty & Maritime Law is a comprehensive guide on the special procedures, rules, jurisdictional questions, and remedies for American and international admiralty and maritime law. In this publication, the author offers:
LAdR 1. Title and ScopeLAdR 2. Process: Return ThereofLAdR 3. PublicationLAdR 4. Notice of Sale, Publication ofLAdR 5. Costs and Security, Stipulations ofLAdR 6. Stipulations, Form ofLAdR 7. Pleadings and partiesLAdR 8. Verification of Pleadings and Answers to InterrogatoriesLAdR 9. InterventionLAdR 10. Appraisement, Appraisers, and Other MattersLAdR 11. Release of Seizures -- Custodial, Cost -- General BondsLAdR 12. Taxation as CostsLAdR 13. Stay of Execution or of Release of Property after Judgment or DismissalLAdR 14. Possessory Actions -- Short Day ReturnLAdR 15. Claims after Sale, How Limited LAdR 1. Title and Scope.(a) The Title of these Rules is "Local Rules for Admiralty and Maritime Claims in the United States District Court, Southern District of Georgia."(b) These Rules apply to admiralty and maritime claims within the meaning and contemplation of Rule 9(h) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and remedies within Supplemental Rule A of the Supplemental Rules For Certain Admiralty and Maritime Claims, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, unless inconsistent therewith. The general local rules are also applicable unless inconsistent herewith.Back to Top LAdR 2. Process: Return Thereof.(a) All process shall be issued by the Clerk without order, except suits prosecuted in forma pauperis sought to be filed without pre-payment of fees or costs or without security.(b) Unless otherwise ordered by the Court, all process from this Court within the scope of Supplemental Rules C and D shall be returnable by Verified Claim within fourteen (14) days after execution of the process and by motion or answer within twenty-one (21) days following the filing of the claim pursuant to Supplemental Rule C(6).(c) Unless otherwise ordered by the Court, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 9(h) process from this Court in personam shall be by civil summons returnable twenty-one (21) days after service of the process except process within the contemplation of Supplemental Rule B which shall be in conformity therewith.(d) Whenever a vessel is to be served, the party seeking service shall inform the Marshal of the registry of the vessel to be served, provided, however, that failure to so inform the Marshal shall not be cause for the Marshal to refuse to serve the said vessel or in any way invalidate service of said vessel.Back to Top LAdR 3. Publication.(a) Publication required by Supplemental Rule C(4) shall be made once, without further Court order, in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the property is seized.(b) If the property arrested is not released within fourteen (14)days after execution of process, publication hereunder shall, unless otherwise ordered, be caused by the plaintiff or intervenor to be made within twenty-one (21) days after execution of process.(c) Such notice shall be substantially as follows, except and unless otherwise provided in actions for the enforcement of forfeitures for violation of any statute of the United States:
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTSOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIACaption of CaseNOTICE: The United States Marshal, Southern District of Georgia, has arrested the [(Vessel and appurtenances) (property)] in the above causes, civil and maritime for [nature of claim, i.e., contract, salvage, damage, collision, foreclosure of preferred mortgage, etc.] amounting to [$ (and nature of unliquidated items.)]. Process returnable on [month, day and year, i.e., 30 days following execution of process as measured by Rule 6(a), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure] at the (name of Courthouse), (city), (state), and any person claiming any interest therein must appear no later than that date and file written claims, answer or other defense, in person, or by attorney, or default and condemnation will be ordered.DATED at [city of publication], [State], [month, day and year of publication].[Name][Address]Attorney(s) for [(Plaintiff) (Intervenor)](d) Plaintiff or intervenor will cause to be furnished to the Marshal of this Court, at the time process issues in Supplemental Rule B, C, and D actions, a prepared statement of attachment and garnishment or arrest with blanks for completion of date thereof and for signature below the name and title of such Marshal, together with a self addressed envelope to plaintiff or plaintiff's attorney with sufficient postage affixed. The Marshal of this Court will promptly cause same to be completed and mailed after execution of process.(e) Plaintiff shall effect publication, required by Supplemental Rule F(4), without further Court order, in a newspaper of general circulation in the Division where the case is pending.(f) Whenever publication is required by Supplemental Rules C(4) and F(4), plaintiff or intervenor will cause to be filed with the Clerk, not later than the return date, sworn proof of publication by or on behalf of the publisher or the editor in charge of legal notices of the newspaper in which published, together with a copy of the proof of publication, or publication or reproduction thereof.Back to Top LAdR 4. Notice of Sale, Publication of. Notice of sale of property in suits in rem and quasi in rem, except in suits on behalf of the United States where other notice is prescribed by statute, shall be caused by the Marshal to be published in any one of the newspapers set forth in Rule 303(a) of these Local Rules and published at least twice, the first publication to be at least one week prior to the date of sale and the second publication to be at least three days prior to the date of sale, unless otherwise ordered by the Court.Back to Top LAdR 5. Costs and Security, Stipulations for.(a) In actions where there is sought, in whole or in part, a remedy listed in Supplemental Rule A of the Supplemental Rules For Certain Admiralty and Maritime Claims, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, no initial pleading seeking such remedy, or claim pursuant to Supplemental Rule F(5), shall be filed unless the party offering the same shall first file a stipulation for costs in the sum of $250.00, or in case two or more vessels are jointly or severally proceeded against, a sum equal to $250.00 per vessel, conditioned that the principal shall pay all costs and expenses awarded against him by any interlocutory order or final judgment, or on appeal. All stipulations shall be with at least one surety in the Southern District of Georgia. Any incorporated surety company duly authorized to do business in the Southern District of Georgia may be accepted as such surety. In the place of the stipulation for costs with surety, a party may deposit the necessary amount in the registry of the Court accompanied by a statement conditioned as above, referring to such deposited amount. In lieu of a surety upon a stipulation for costs, any attorney at law admitted to the bar of this Court may make a certificate that he agrees to become personally liable for costs and expenses stipulated, in which case said attorney shall be personally liable for costs and expenses up to $250.00 per vessel.(b) Seamen suing as provided in 28 U.S.C. 1916 shall not be required to file a stipulation for costs in the first instance. The Court may, however, order a stipulation to be given at any time.(c) At any time, any party having an interest in the subject matter of the action may move the Court, on due notice and for cause, for greater, better, or lesser security; and any such order may be enforced by attachment or otherwise. The Court may enter such order on its own motion, with or without notice.Back to Top LAdR 6. Stipulations, Form of. Except in cases instituted by the United States by information, or complaint of information upon seizures for any breach of the revenue,navigation, or other laws of the United States, stipulations or bonds in admiralty and maritime actions need not be under seal and may be executed by the agent or attorney of the stipulator or obligor. Stipulations for costs with corporate surety need not be signed or executed by the party, but may be signed by its agent or attorney, and shall be sufficient in any event if executed only by the surety approved by the Court.Back to Top LAdR 7. Pleadings and parties.(a) Every complaint filed as a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(h) action shall set forth"In Admiralty" following the designation of the Court, in addition to the statement, if any, contained in the body of the complaint pursuant to such rule.(b) In actions under Supplemental Rules B, C, or D, the plaintiff's attorney or the plaintiff, if he has no attorney, shall include his business telephone number in addition to his address.(c) Every complaint in Supplemental Rules B and C actions shall state the amount of the debt, damages, or salvage for which the action is brought, and shall include in addition thereto the amount of any claim for unliquidated items claimed, including attorney's fees.(d) In cases of salvage, the complaint shall also state to the extent known or estimate the value of the hull, cargo, freight and other property salved, the amount claimed, the names of the principal salvors, and that the suit is instituted in their behalf and in behalf of all other persons interested or associated with them. There shall also be attached to the complaint a list of all known salvors and all persons believed entitled to share in the salvage, and also any agreement of consortship available and known to exist among them or any of them, including a copy of any such agreement.(e) With respect to any admiralty or maritime claim in personam, a verified complaint may contain a prayer for process to attach the defendant's goods and chattels, or credits and effects in the hands of garnishees named in the complaint to the amount sued for, if the defendant shall not be found within the district. Such a complaint shall be accompanied by an affidavit signed by the plaintiff or his attorney that, to the affiant's knowledge, or to the best of his information and belief, the defendant cannot be found within the district, and such affidavit shall set forth the steps taken to ascertain that the defendant could not be found within thedistrict.When a verified complaint supported by such affidavit also states that the defendant's property expected to be found in the district and sought to be attached or garnished is such as may be removed from the jurisdiction, concealed, or destroyed so as to frustrate jurisdiction, the Clerk shall forthwith issue a summons and process of maritime attachment and garnishment.In all other instances, process of maritime attachment and garnishment shall issue only upon order of the Court after an ex parte hearing before any United States District Court Judge or Magistrate Judge for this district.Back to Top LAdR 8. Verification of Pleadings and Answers to Interrogatories. Every complaint and claim in Supplemental Rules B, C, and D actions shall be verified on oath or solemn affirmation by a party, or an officer of a corporate party. If no party or corporate officer is within the district, verification of a complaint, claim, or answers to interrogatories may be made by an agent, attorney-in-fact, or attorney of record, who shall state briefly the sources of his knowledge, information and belief, declare that the document affirmed is true to the best of his knowledge, information, and belief, state the reason why verification is not made by the party or a corporate officer, and that he is authorized so to act. Any such verification will be deemed to have been made by the party to whom a document might apply as if verified personally. Any interested party may move the Court, with or without a request for stay, for the personal oath of a party or all parties, or that of a corporate officer. If required by the Court, such verification shall be procured by commission or as otherwise ordered.Back to Top LAdR 9. Intervention.(a) Whenever a vessel or other property is seized, attached or arrested in a proceeding and said property is in the hands of the Marshal, anyone having a claim against the vessel or property is required to present the same by intervening complaint filed in the case and not by way of original complaint, unless otherwise ordered by the Court. Upon the filing of each such intervening complaint, the Clerk (or, counsel who files same) shall forthwith deliver a conformed copy thereof to the Marshal who shall thereupon post such copy on the vessel property, but the Marshal need not re-arrest or re-attach the vessel or property. Counsel for intervening parties are required to ascertain the names and addresses of other counsel of record in the proceedings at the time of the filing of an intervening complaint and forthwith to serve a copy of the intervening complaint, including any exhibits attached to the original thereof, upon such other counsel and shall thereafter file a certificate with the Clerk setting forth the names and addresses of counsel served, method of service, and the date thereof.(b) Subject to other rules of this Court, any party is permitted to intervene without the filing of a motion or petition to intervene in any proceeding filed pursuant to Rule 9(h) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure where a vessel or other property has been arrested or attached and is in the hands of the Marshal, except that no party is permitted to intervene in any such proceedings without first obtaining leave of Court if intervention is sought within fifteen days prior to the date for which a sale of the vessel or property has been set by the Court.If intervention is sought within said fifteen-day period by any party, that party is required to file a motion or petition to intervene and to serve copies thereof along with any exhibits or documents relied upon in support of such intervenors' claims and request for intervention, upon all counsel of record. In such circumstances the Court may allow intervention upon such terms and conditions which is considered equitable to the interests of all parties involved.(c) Following an initial attachment, arrest, or seizure, all parties except seamen, intervening in a proceeding alleging a claim against the property are required to deposit funds for the safekeeping of the property with the Marshal upon the filing of such intervening claim or complaint. Unless the Court otherwise orders for good cause shown the deposit is to be in an amount determined by the Marshal.(d) Whenever there is an arrest in rem, or whenever property is attached, the party arrested or any person having a right to intervene in respect of the thing attached, may, upon evidence showing any improper practice or a manifest want of equity on the part of the libellant, be entitled to an order requiring the libellant to show cause instanter why the arrest or attachment should not be vacated. This rule shall have no application to suits for seamen's wages when process is issued upon a certificate of sufficient cause filed pursuant to Sections 4546 and 4547 of the Revised Statutes (Title 46 U.S.C. 603 and 604).Back to Top LAdR 10. Appraisement, Appraisers, and Other Matters.(a) Order for appraisement of property under arrest or attachment, or of plaintiff's interest in the vessel and pending freight under Supplemental Rule F(7), shall issue only upon motion and notice pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 7(b) or upon consent of the attorneys for the respective parties.Before executing their trust, appraisers shall be sworn or affirmed to faithful discharge thereof before the Clerk or his deputy. The appraisement shall be returned to the Clerk's office and the Clerk's office shall give notice of the return to the parties or their attorneys. Any party, on notice, may appeal the appraisement instanter to the Court. After return of the appraisement the Court, on notice and hearing, shall determine the val