What court has jurisdiction over maritime issues?

Jurisdiction is when a court has the right to hear a case. If a case falls outside of a court’s jurisdiction, then it cannot hear it. This is important when it comes to any area of law but especially for admiralty and maritime law in Louisiana. Knowing about jurisdiction is important to your case and could affect its outcome.

Pacific Maritime Magazine explains that admiralty cases can be heard in state and federal courts. States can hear only specific cases. They must be able to award the remedy sought to hear a case. Federal courts have complete jurisdiction to hear any maritime case. They are the only courts that can hear cases involving the ceasing of a vessel or against the United States. 

The confusing part about jurisdiction is that not all cases that may seem like admiralty cases need to be heard by an admiralty court. The basic rule is a case falls under admiralty jurisdiction when it involves commerce or an accident on the water. It also covers all vessels, whether commercial or not. 

When a case is under the jurisdiction of an admiralty court, it also is under the jurisdiction of federal law. It may still fall under some state laws if those laws do not contradict federal law or if there is no federal law in place. It is essential to apply the correct laws to avoid repeal of judgments on cases. This information is not intended as legal advice and should be used for education only.