Maritime Claims: Definition and Meaning

Maritime claims are an essential part of maritime law, which governs the legal rights and responsibilities of ships, shipping, and maritime commerce. Maritime claims arise as a result of shipping accidents, collisions, and disputes, and they involve a wide range of legal issues, including personal injury, cargo damage, environmental pollution, and maritime liens. In India, the Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Act of 2017 defined maritime claims and provided for their comprehensive settlement.

The Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Act, 2017, is a comprehensive piece of legislation in India that deals with maritime claims and admiralty jurisdiction. The Act came into effect on April 1, 2018, and replaced the outdated Admiralty Act of 1861. The new Act is in accordance with international maritime law conventions and aims to provide a legal framework for resolving maritime claims in a timely and efficient manner.

Meaning of Maritime Claims under the Act

The Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Act, 2017 lists the maritime claims for which the High Courts may exercise their admiralty jurisdiction in Section 4. The lists of maritime claims resemble the lists of maritime claims outlined in the International Convention on the Arrest of Ships, 1999, Geneva, and the International Convention in Relation to the Arrest of Sea-Going Ships, 1952, Brussels. The Admiralty (Jurisdiction & Settlement of Maritime Claims) Act of 2017 does, however, include the following additional claims as maritime claims in relation to which a vessel can be proceeded against and arrested.

Such claims include for port or harbor dues, canal, dock, or light tolls, waterway charges. Further, claims by the master or crew or their heirs or dependents for wages, the cost of repatriation, or social insurance contributions; insurance premiums, mutual insurance calls; commission/brokerage agency fees payable by the vessel owner or demise charterer; environment damage claims, or threats of such claims; and wreck removal claims.

The Act defines maritime claims as claims arising from or relating to −

  • A dispute over the possession or ownership of a vessel, or the ownership of any share in it;

  • A dispute between co-owners of a vessel over the vessel's employment or earnings;

  • A mortgage or a similar charge on a vessel;

  • Loss or damage caused by vessel operation;

  • Loss of life or personal injury occurring on land or on the water as a direct result of vessel operation;

  • Loss or damage to or relating to any goods;

  • An agreement relating to the carriage of goods or passengers on board a vessel, whether included in a charter party or not;

  • Agreement concerning the use or hiring of the vessel, whether contained in a charter party or not;

  • Salvage services, including, if applicable, special compensation for salvage services in relation to a vessel that, by itself or its cargo, threatens environmental damage;

  • Towage;

  • Pilotage;

  • Goods, materials, perishable or non-perishable provisions, bunker fuel, and equipment (including containers), supplied or rendered to the vessel for operation, management, preservation, or maintenance, including any fee payable or leviable

  • Vessel construction, reconstruction, repair, conversion, or equipping;

  • Dues in connection with any port, harbor, canal, dock, or light tolls, other tolls, waterway, or charges of a similar nature chargeable under any law in force at the time;

  • Expenses incurred on behalf of the vessel or its owners;

  • Particular average or general average;

  • A dispute arising from a contract for the sale of the vessel; an insurance premium (including mutual insurance calls) payable by or on behalf of the vessel owners or demise charterers in respect of the vessel;

  • Commission, brokerage, or agency fees payable by or on behalf of the vessel owner or demise charterer;

  • Damage or threat of damage caused by the vessel to the environment, coastline, or related interests; measures taken to prevent, minimize, or remove such damage; compensation for such damage; costs of reasonable measures for the restoration of the environment.

  • Costs or expenses incurred in raising, removing, recovering, destroying, or rendering harmless a sunk, wrecked, stranded, or abandoned vessel, including anything on board such vessel, and costs or expenses incurred in preserving an abandoned vessel and maintaining its crew; and

  • Maritime lien.

The Act provides admiralty courts in India the authority to hear and decide maritime claims, as well as to arrest and release ships in connection with such claims.


The Admiralty Act, of 2017, establishes the jurisdiction and settlement of maritime claims in India. The Act specifies the types of maritime claims that can be brought before the court and the procedures for resolving them. The Act is an important step toward aligning India's maritime laws with international standards and providing a framework for the resolution of maritime claims.

The Act authorizes the arrest of ships to secure claims and the sale of ships if the claim is not settled within a specified time frame. The Act establishes a comprehensive framework for the settlement of maritime claims.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is meant by Maritime Claims?

Ans. Maritime claims are claims arising out of maritime transactions or activities, such as shipping, navigation, or transportation of goods by sea. These claims may include damage to or loss of cargo, personal injury or death, damage to ships or other maritime property, salvage, or towage.

Q2.What is the Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Act, 2017?

Ans. The Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Act, 2017 is legislation enacted by the Indian Parliament to consolidate and amend the laws relating to admiralty jurisdiction, legal proceedings in respect of maritime claims, and the arrest of ships in India.

Q3.What is admiralty jurisdiction?

Ans. Admiralty jurisdiction refers to the power of a court to hear and decide maritime claims. This includes the power to arrest ships, order their sale, and distribute the proceeds among the claimants.

Q4. Who can exercise admiralty jurisdiction in India?

Ans. Admiralty jurisdiction in India can be exercised by the High Courts of the coastal states and union territories. The Act provides for the jurisdiction of the High Courts over maritime claims.

Updated on: 10-May-2023


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