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:
You can access the full list of admiralty forms on the court form finder.
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|
|£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
Send the form to:
7 Rolls Building
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:
- an application and undertaking for arrest and custody form
- a declaration form
- an in rem claim form
- 2 warrant of arrest 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 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.
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
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.