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Admiralty - Pathfinder

June 2011 - by Suzanne Elliott and Lori Hagen


This pathfinder will be useful in finding information about Admiralty law, or maritime law. This body of law deals with such matters as marine commerce, marine navigation, shipping, sailors and the movement of goods on the water.

Admiralty law in the United States is affected by international law, including many multilateral treaties, and is an offshoot of British admiralty laws.

U.S. Admiralty laws state that any ship is subject to the flag of the country it is flying. A ship flying an American flag that is stopped in Russian waters, for example, is subject to American law.

Primary Sources

According to the U.S. Constitution, Congress has the power to oversee both interstate and international commerce, which includes the transportation of both people and goods on water.

  • United States Code
    Title 28. Judiciary and Judicial Procedure
    Title 33. Navigation and Navigable Waters
    Title 43. Shipping

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