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Modern Maritime Law and Risk Management




Thus far, we have seen that the admiralty jurisdiction is statutory, with specific heads of subject matter. It entertains both claims in rem and claims in personam. The in rem claim which, until recently, was known as the action in rem, has had a long history. It has been mentioned, in the introduction of Chapter 1, that the conflict between the common law courts and the Admiralty Court was settled first, by permitting the Lord Admiral to determine disputes in matters that concerned exclusively what happened at sea, such as collisions and salvage, as well as matters that involved mortgages on ships, and questions of possession of or title in a ship. The Lord Admiral was allowed to proceed with a suit only in rem against the ship. This perhaps marked the genesis of the ‘truly in rem’ causes, which involved claims concerned with proprietary rights on the ship and maritime liens and, in which, the defendant was the ship. The concept that the ship was the defendant in maritime claims was used to extend the jurisdiction of the court. The Admiralty Court Acts (ACA) 1840 and 1861 extended the admiralty jurisdiction to other maritime claims, referred to in this book as the ‘non-truly in rem’ because they are not concerned with proprietary rights in a ship, or maritime liens. The phrase ‘quasi in rem’ is avoided because that phrase was used with regard to the old ‘maritime attachment’, which was, as explained in the introduction of this book, related to the arrest of property or the person of the defendant in actions in personam (see Ch 1 para 5).

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