Admiralty: Overview

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The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (the Court) has jurisdiction under the Admiralty Act 1988 to hear proceedings commenced as actions in personam on:

  • a maritime claim, or

  • a claim for damage done to a ship.

The Court’s jurisdiction is limited to proceedings under sections 9, 27 and 28 of the Admiralty Act 1988.

The Federal Court of Australia or a state court may remit any in rem matter to the Court.

The Court works in conjunction with the Federal Court of Australia. In particular, the Court is expected to provide an alternative venue for the hearing of smaller cargo claims within the federal system.

The Court's admiralty work is undertaken by nominated judges working with skilled registrars and court staff in each state to deal with matters in a way best suited to the particular dispute.

You are encouraged to try to resolve your claim through alternative dispute resolution, including mediation, early neutral evaluation and arbitration. The Court provides the full range of its facilities to bring matters flexibly, cheaply and speedily to resolution and may order mediation or refer a matter to arbitration if the parties consent.

Practice directions

Practice directions are procedural guidelines issued by the Court. They complement legislation, rules and regulations. They provide specific direction about the practice and procedure that must be followed in certain types of proceedings.

Practice directions are issued by the Chief Justice/Chief Judge upon advice of judges of the Court, pursuant to the Court’s inherent power to control its own processes, as well as the power under the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Act 2021 for the Court to give directions about the practice and procedure to be followed in a proceeding.

In general, practice directions are issued to:

  • complement particular legislative provisions or rules of court
  • set out more detailed procedures for particular types of proceedings, and
  • notify parties and their lawyers of matters which require their attention.

Below are links to the practice directions that apply to this area of law: