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Admiralty/Maritime Law: Getting Started

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Admiralty Law or Maritime Law (the terms are interchangeable) is the body of law which governs maritime questions and offenses. It is both domestic law governing maritime activities and private international governing the relationships between private entities which operate vessels on the open oceans. Article III, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution and the Judiciary Act of 1789 gave the federal district courts jurisdiction over admiralty issues. While the U.S. Constitution extended federal jurisdiction over admiralty and maritime cases, there is still a "saving" clause that permits state courts to hear some maritime cases. Modern American admiralty law is derived from custom, judicial decisions, legislative enactments, and international treaties. Many of the issues relevant to admiralty today are civil litigation involving environmental litigation, personal injury, insurance coverage, and subrogation issues. These topics as well as many others are covered in this guide: arbitration, bills of lading, carriage of goods, damages, personal injury, economic zones, enforcement, exemptions, jurisdiction, maritime liens, maritime claims, maritime collisions, insurance, marine pollution, maritime terrorism, prize, salvage, seamen, shipping, towage and pilotage.

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