Also referred to as Maritime Law, this body of law pertains to the regulation of navigation and shipping, both substantively and procedurally. Unlike many other law specialties, admiralty law has a very distinctive niche, and a very limited jurisdiction. United States admiralty law has evolved from the British admiralty law of colonial times, and much of Congress and the courts' energies are devoted to developing a uniform body of national and international admiralty law in order to smooth the progress of commerce.
Admiralty law is now under the jurisdiction of the federal district courts; they say that the ship's flag determines the source country of the law, which means each country is allowed to rule over their own ships and seamen, regardless of the waters (although U.S. courts may refuse to honor another country's law). Admiralty law covers such topics as shipping, navigation, waters, insurance, canals, and even piracy.