Take a maritime or shipping dispute to the Admiralty Court

How to take someone to the court to get compensation or payment for a collision at sea, a ship mortgage or another shipping dispute.

Cases dealt with by the court

You can use the Admiralty Court to solve a shipping or maritime dispute, for instance involving:

  • collisions between ships
  • damage to cargo
  • payment for salvaging a ship
  • limiting liability for loss or damage
  • ship mortgages or unpaid costs

You can take the owner of the ship to court (an ‘in personam’ claim) or make a claim against the ship itself (an ‘in rem’ claim).

Your claim will be decided by a High Court Judge or the Admiralty Registrar (a judicial officer who can manage the case).

Most trials take place in the Rolls Building in London, but they can also be held in selected courts around England and Wales.

Read the Admiralty and Commercial Courts guide for details of how to use the court.

Help and support

You can get legal advice from a solicitor or barrister.

Court staff can give you guidance on how the process works, but they cannot give you legal advice.

Solving the dispute using arbitration

It may be quicker to use an alternative to court, such as arbitration.

You can use an arbitrator from the London Maritime Arbitrators Association or ask the court if a judge can do the arbitration.

Start a court case

To start a case, fill in the relevant form below:

Access the full list of admiralty forms

If you want damages, explain why the other party was at fault and what you’d like in compensation.

Pay the court fee

You will have to pay a court fee to start the case.

If you’re owed money or want compensation, the fee will be based on how much you want to claim.

Claim amount up to… Court fee
£300 £35
£500 £50
£1,000 £70
£1,500 £80
£3,000 £115
£5,000 £205
£10,000 £455
£200,000 5% of the amount

If your case is worth more than £200,000 the fee is £10,000.

If you want something other than money, eg to repossess a ship, the fee is £480.

You should make cheques payable to ‘HM Courts and Tribunals Service’.

You may also have to pay another fee later on, if there is a trial to decide on your case.

Send the form to the court

You can file your documents electronically. This online service also enables you to search cases, order copies of documents and pay fees.

Or send the form to:

Admiralty Court
Ground Floor
7 Rolls Building
Fetter Lane

Fax: 0870 761 7725
DX 160040 Strand 4

Serve the form on the defendant

Send or deliver a copy of the form to the person who will be defending the claim, along with:

Give the court a certificate of service to confirm you’ve done this.

Arrest a ship

If you don’t think the owner can pay, you can ask the court to arrest the ship.

You will need to send the following forms:

You will have to pay court fees and agree to cover the cost of detaining the ship, which may include berthing or mooring fees. You may be able to get this money back if the ship is sold at the end of the trial.

After you make your claim

The defendant has to respond to your claim within 14 days of receiving it.

If they don’t respond, you can ask the court to decide on the case.

Include a statement of case if it’s about a collision dispute.

If they respond, you will have to send them more details about your case, known as the ‘particulars of claim’.

Getting ready for the trial

You will usually have to go to a case management conference to agree what steps you need to take before the trial.

These could include producing documents or arranging for witnesses to give evidence.

A judge or registrar will:

  • identify the issues in the case
  • work out how long the trial will last
  • set a date for the trial

There may also be a ‘pre-trial review’ meeting in the 2 months before the trial, to check you’re ready.

You may have to wait several months for a trial - or longer if the trial is likely to last more than a few days. Check the Commercial Court lead times for details.

The trial

The trial will be in front of the judge or the registrar.

During the trial, you or your lawyer will have the chance to:

  • make opening and closing statements
  • call expert witnesses
  • present expert reports
  • question the witnesses

The courtroom will usually be open to the public.

The decision

In most cases you won’t find out the decision on the day of the hearing.

The court will usually send you a copy of the draft judgment, to check for typos or other textual errors.

The judge or registrar will then formally hand down the judgment.

If you disagree with the decision

You can ask the court for permission to appeal.

Include your reasons for appealing.

Find out more about appealing to the Court of Appeal.

Decisions on previous cases

The court’s decisions on earlier cases are published on the British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII) website.

Legislation and rules

You can find detailed rules on using the court in part 61 and practice direction 61 of the Civil Procedure Rules.

Published 29 June 2015
Last updated 16 July 2018 + show all updates
  1. Link to ce-file added and forms links updated.

  2. First published.