Admiralty refers to a jurisdiction which determines suits or actions arising in consequence of acts done upon or relating to all transactions and proceedings concerning commerce and navigation, and to damages or injuries upon the sea. All the courts of Federal government are vested with the authority to take cognizance of all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction. The district courts are also empowered to take cognizance of all civil causes of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction. Such power includes all seizures under laws of imposts, navigation or trade of the United States, where the seizures are made on waters navigable from the sea, by vessels of ten or more tons burden, within their respective districts, as well as upon the high seas.
Admiralty law encompasses federal common law or statute in almost its entirety. However, it is supplemented by state law where the federal law does not address any particular issue raised. Admiralty covers the jurisdiction of, and the practice and procedure in, courts administering maritime law; the limits and subject matter of such jurisdiction; and matters as to causes of action, pleading, defenses, evidence, and appeal and review.