What Is Admiralty Law?
Admiralty law is a body of laws, treaties, and conventions that govern all offshore activity. This may include:
- The shipping of goods
- Crimes on the open seas
- Personal injuries suffered by seamen
- Various other matters
History of Maritime Law
More commonly known as maritime law, admiralty has a rich history that can be traced all the way back to 500 AD, if not earlier. One of the first mentions of maritime law stems from the influences of Rhodian Law. In the Digest (533 AD), Emperor Antoninus was quoted as saying:
“I am indeed lord of the world, but the Law is the lord of the sea. This matter must be decided by the maritime law of the Rhodians, provided that no law of ours is opposed to it.”
Rhodian Law, however, was far from the only source of maritime law history. Over the centuries, admiralty law has been shaped by countless cultures and borrowed from several laws. Shipping—both for commerce and trade and as a form of transportation—was so crucial to historical society that many cultures formed their own laws surrounding it.
In the 13th century, the Consolat de Mar or “Consulate of the Sea” was followed by Spain, Provence, and several Italian cities. In the 12th century, the Rolls of Oléron was crafted, which became the foundation of maritime law in England and France, as well as Scotland, Flander, Prussia, and Castille. The Rolls still have considerable influence.
Other prominent sources of modern day maritime law include:
- Maritime Code of Christian XI – Sweden (1667)
- Marine Ordinances of Louis XIV – France (1681)
- Code of Christian V – Denmark (1683)
Admiralty Law In Modern Times
While the United States borrowed heavily from its British roots, it has formulated its own standards for admiralty law throughout the course of its history. U.S. maritime law is created by two main components.
The first is composed of several federal maritime statutes that have been instated over time; some examples:
- Admiralty Extension Act
- Death on the High Seas Act
- Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (Jones Act)
- Limitation of Liability Act
- Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act
- Public Vessels Act
- Suits in Admiralty Act
The second component is known as “general maritime law.” This is common law, which is not formal, but rather comprised of various legal precedents developed by major court decisions over the years.
Learn more about admiralty law!
How Does Maritime Law Affect Me?
If you or someone you love has been injured offshore, your case will most likely fall under maritime law. Passengers injured aboard cruise ships, harbor workers injured during the course of their work, and even seamen hurt in oil rig explosions and other offshore accidents all potentially have causes of action available in admiralty or under maritime law.
Regardless of the situation, if your injury occurred while you were working on or near the navigable waters of the United States or adjoining areas, it is important that you work with an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in the field of admiralty law. Our team at Arnold & Itkin offers this level of experienced advocacy. We encourage you to contact a maritime lawyer from our team as soon as possible.
Why You Should Call the Maritime Lawyers at Arnold & Itkin
At Arnold & Itkin, we are proven trial attorneys who are well versed in maritime law. If you would like to see for yourself the successes that we have had in protecting injured seamen, we encourage you to check out our victories and case results.
Our firm takes more maritime cases to trial, handles more admiralty lawsuits, and represents more offshore workers annually than any other firm in the country. We recently recovered the largest single-event personal injury verdict in Louisiana history, and we have previously set records with our trial verdicts in other states.
If you would like to discuss your case with a knowledgeable maritime law attorney from our firm, simply call us today at (888) 346-5024. You can also fill out our online case evaluation form.