Constitutional Irregularities in the British Imperial Courts of Vice Admiralty During the Mid Nineteenth Century

27 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2017 Last revised: 7 Feb 2018

See all articles by Bevan Marten

Bevan Marten

Victoria University of Wellington School of Law

Date Written: March 31, 2016

Abstract

During the mid nineteenth century there were between 40 and 50 courts of vice admiralty located in colonies across the British Empire. They were imperial institutions, whose officers were supposed to be appointed by the High Court of Admiralty in London. However, the complexity and obscurity of the official process, combined with the lack of priority given to the courts by imperial and colonial officials alike, meant that many of these courts experienced unfilled vacancies and irregular appointments. This article discusses the shortcomings of the vice admiralty system that gave rise to these irregularities, and led to the passage of the Vice Admiralty Courts Act in 1863. It demonstrates that the courts were ineffective instruments of imperial authority, and that by the time the 1863 Act was passed their integration into the regular colonial courts was inevitable.

Keywords: Admiralty, Legal History, British Empire

JEL Classification: K40

Suggested Citation

Marten, Bevan, Constitutional Irregularities in the British Imperial Courts of Vice Admiralty During the Mid Nineteenth Century (March 31, 2016). (2016) 37 Journal of Legal History 215; Victoria University of Wellington Legal Research Paper No. 6/2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3058466

Bevan Marten (Contact Author)

Victoria University of Wellington School of Law ( email )

PO Box 600
Wellington, 6140
New Zealand
0064 4 463 6321 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.victoria.ac.nz/law/about/staff/bevan-marten

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