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Judicial Divestiture

In the absence of a statute authorizing them to do so, parties may not oust a court of admiralty jurisdiction by private agreement.[i]  In a maritime contract within admiralty jurisdiction, the parties may not oust the court of admiralty jurisdiction by means of an agreement which declares the parties’ intention to regard the contract as nonmaritime in nature.[ii]  However, parties may oust an admiralty court of power to initially resolve a controversy by means of an arbitration agreement.[iii]  A party to an arbitration agreement may begin an admiralty proceeding in the customary manner and then proceed to arbitration pursuant to an order of the court in admiralty, under a provision of the Federal Arbitration Act.  The court maintains jurisdiction until litigation ends, unless a judgment would be useless, once proper seizure establishes jurisdiction.[iv]


[i] American Sugar Refining Co. v. The Anaconda, 138 F.2d 765 (5th Cir. Fla. 1943)

[ii] Ocean Science & Engineering Inc. v. International Geomarine Corp., 312 F. Supp. 825 (D. Del. 1970).

[iii] Continental Chartering and Brokerage, Inc. v. T.J. Stevenson and Co., Inc., 678 F. Supp. 58 (S.D. N.Y. 1987).

[iv] Bargecarib Inc. v. Offshore Supply Ships Inc., 168 F.3d 227 (5th Cir. 1999).

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