Admiralty court

From Academic Kids

Admiralty courts, also known as maritime courts, are courts exercising jurisdiction over all maritime contracts, torts, injuries and offences. In the United Kingdom, contrary to most other courts that are governed by the common law, the admiralty courts are governed by civil law, as this is the law that the Law of the Sea is based upon. In the United States, the federal district courts have jurisdiction over all admiralty and maritime actions.

Role in the American War of Independence

During the period after the French and Indian War, Admiralty Courts became an issue that was a part of the rising tension between the British Parliament and their American Colonies. Starting with the Proclamation of 1763, these courts were given jurisdiction over a number of laws affecting the colonies. The jurisdiction was expanded in later acts of the Parliament, such as the Stamp Act of 1765.

The colonists' objections were based on several factors. The courts could try a case anywhere in the British Empire. Cases involving New York or Boston merchants were frequently heard in Nova Scotia, and sometimes even in England. The fact that judges were paid based in part on the fines that they levied, and naval officers were paid for bringing 'successful' cases led to abuses. There was no trial by jury, and evidence standards were weaker than in criminal courts. The government's objective was to improve the effectiveness of revenue and excise tax laws. In many past instances, smugglers would avoid taxes. Even when they were caught and brought to trial, local juries frequently acquitted the popular local merchants whom they perceived as being unfairly accused by an unpopular tax collector.

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