Admiralty Jurisdiction in India

Admiralty Jurisdiction is an important aspect of maritime law that governs commercial transactions, disputes, and accidents that occur at sea. Admiralty jurisdiction was established in England during the Middle Ages and has since spread around the world, with different legal frameworks in different countries.

India is one such country, and the Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Act of 2017 established its legal framework for admiralty jurisdiction. The Act seeks to consolidate and amend Indian laws governing admiralty jurisdiction, legal proceedings in connection with maritime claims, and ship arrest.

Nature of Admiralty Jurisdiction

Admiralty jurisdiction is the sole authority granted to a court to hear disputes arising from maritime transactions such as carriage of goods, marine insurance, collision, and salvage. Courts with specialized knowledge and expertise in maritime law exercise this jurisdiction.

The Admiralty Act, 2017 defines "Admiralty Jurisdiction" as the jurisdiction exercised by a High Court in respect of maritime claims under this Act. The new Act establishes a comprehensive legal framework for admiralty jurisdiction and allows for the quick and efficient settlement of maritime claims. The Act broadened the scope of admiralty jurisdiction in India by including several categories of maritime claims that were not previously covered by the legislation.

The Act gives High Courts exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide any maritime claim. Under the Act, a maritime claim includes a wide range of claims arising from maritime commerce or navigation, such as claims for ship, cargo, or freight damage, salvage, collision, and general average. The Act also covers claims involving marine pollution and ship arrests.

A maritime claim can be brought against any vessel, regardless of flag, ownership, or location, under the Act. The court's jurisdiction is determined by the nature of the claim and the location of the vessel at the time of the claim.

The Arrest of Ships

The Act gives the High Courts the authority to order the arrest of a ship in order to secure a maritime claim. If the claimant proves that there is a valid claim, that the ship is within the jurisdiction of the court, and that there is a risk that the ship will leave the jurisdiction, be removed, or be concealed, the arrest can be ordered.

Sale of Arrested Ships

The Act also allows the court to sell arrested ships to satisfy a maritime claim. The court may order the sale if it is satisfied that the claim is valid and that the sale is required to satisfy the claim.


In accordance with Section 14 of the Act, an appeal shall lie from any judgment, decree, final order, or interim order of a single Judge of the High Court under this Act to a Division Bench of the High Court, notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force.

Transfer of proceedings by Supreme Court

Section 15 of the Act provides for the transfer of proceedings by the Supreme Court, which states that the Supreme Court may, on the application of any party, transfer any admiralty proceeding from one High Court to another High Court at any stage, and the latter High Court shall proceed to try, hear, and determine the matter from the stage at which it stood at the time of transfer. However, that no such proceeding shall be transferred unless the parties to the proceeding have been given an opportunity to be heard.


The Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Act, 2017, is a significant legal development in India. The Act broadens Admiralty jurisdiction and authorizes the arrest of ships to enforce maritime claims. The Act also allows for the filing of maritime claims and the resolution of disputes through High Courts. The Act is expected to improve the resolution of maritime disputes in India and strengthen India's position as a maritime nation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is Admiralty Jurisdiction?

Ans. Admiralty jurisdiction refers to the power of a court to hear and determine cases related to maritime matters, such as ships, shipping, and other related activities. The Admiralty jurisdiction extends to both inland and maritime waters.

Q2. What are the types of maritime claims covered under the Admiralty Act of 2017?

Ans. The Admiralty Act, 2017 covers a wide range of maritime claims, including claims related to the carriage of goods, claims for damage caused by a ship, claims for loss of life or personal injury, claims related to salvage operations, claims related to towage and pilotage services, and claims related to maritime liens.

Q3. What is the jurisdiction of the High Courts under the Admiralty Act, of 2017?

Ans. Under the Admiralty Act, of 2017, the High Courts have jurisdiction over all maritime claims, including those related to ships, shipping, and other maritime activities, regardless of the location of the parties involved or the location where the cause of action arose.

Q4. Can a party appeal a decision of the High Court under the Admiralty Act, 2017?

Ans. Yes, a party can appeal a decision of the High Court under the Admiralty Act, of 2017. According to Section 14 of the Act, any judgment, decree, final order, or interim order issued by a single Judge of the High Court under this Act may be appealed to a Division Bench of the High Court.

Updated on: 08-May-2023


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started