Thirteenth Edition (2024)


The Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Act, 2017 came into force on April 1, 2018, repealing the outdated Admiralty Courts Act of 1861. Under this act, jurisdiction regarding maritime claims is vested in the respective High Courts and extends to the territorial waters of their jurisdictions. The act also allows for the central government to extend jurisdiction.

The High Courts of Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Gujarat, Hyderabad Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, and Odisha have jurisdiction over Admiralty actions.

We believe that all High Courts with admiralty jurisdiction should have Pan-India jurisdiction instead of being restricted to state territorial waters. This would protect the interests of claimants and make India more user-friendly for ship arrest.

When a ship arrives at a port for a short period to load or discharge cargo before sailing to its onward destination, it becomes nearly impossible for claimants to file actions due to various reasons. The current act works against claimants because the party initiating the suit invokes the jurisdiction of the High Court within whose territorial waters the vessel is located, leaving the claimant vulnerable when the vessel sails out. If the vessel moves to another port in India, it falls under the territorial jurisdiction of another High Court, requiring fresh proceedings to obtain an arrest or release order, along with the deposition of court fees again, without refunds from the previous court.

Moreover, obtaining an order to withdraw the suit to initiate fresh action in another state, finding legal representation, and preparing for filing the admiralty suit all take time, by which the vessel may have already moved out of that state, frustrating the claimant's efforts.

A claimant wanting to arrest a vessel for a legitimate claim in one High Court's jurisdiction wouldn't be able to do so in another High Court's jurisdiction unless they withdraw their application in the previous jurisdiction. This allows vessel owners to evade claimants and liability, making it impossible for claimants to pursue the vessel.

Previously, India was considered one of the best jurisdictions for ship arrest, attracting claimants globally to initiate legal action in the country.

The admiralty jurisdiction of a High Court depends on the presence of a foreign ship in Indian waters and its subsequent arrest. This jurisdiction can be assumed by the concerned High Court regardless of whether the defendant resides or carries on business within its jurisdiction.

The Act should ideally grant Pan-India jurisdiction to each High Court with admiralty jurisdiction instead of restricting it to their territorial waters.

This act seems to favor ship owners and P&I Clubs, protecting vessel interests and making it nearly impossible for vessels to be arrested in Indian waters. It should have also considered the interests of claimants and petitioners.

According to Section 9, subsections (1) & (2), the limitation period has been reduced from 3 years to 1 year for maritime liens, and to 2 years for claims under clause (a) of subsection (1). This works against claimants and crew members, limiting their chances of obtaining justice or reimbursement for losses.

Despite these drawbacks, the Act represents a significant advancement in India's maritime regime and jurisprudence.

While this book primarily focuses on Ship Arrest in India and Admiralty Laws, it covers the entire spectrum of admiralty edicts, including substantive admiralty law prevalent in India, along with several new chapters on procedures, summaries, and notes.

Previously accessible for private use only, Ship Arrest in India is now available for free to all, sharing the content database of Admiralty Practice in India. The online edition includes a research engine for searching reported or unreported Indian Admiralty court orders, judgments, and articles.

This book sheds light on Indian Admiralty law and procedures, thus bringing maritime and admiralty practice to the forefront of the legal fraternity.

It serves as a comprehensive guide to admiralty law and procedure in India, aiming to better inform shipping and industry professionals to make prompt and informed decisions.

The book seeks to clarify legal requirements, permissions, and prohibitions, rather than comment on their effectiveness. It hopes to contribute to the realistic assessment and debate of these issues.

While the book does not exhaustively cover any topic or predict case outcomes, nor can it replace competent legal counsel, it aims to be accurate at the time of publication, acknowledging that its accuracy may diminish over time.

This book is the first of its kind on admiralty laws published in India and is crucial for advancing general understanding about the regulation of admiralty laws in the country.

Dr. Shrikant Pareshnath Hathi 
Mrs. Binita Shrikant Hathi
Mumbai, India, June 01, 2024


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