||The High Court of Admiralty emerged as a separate entity probably after the battle of Sluys in 1340.
At this time it had a criminal jurisdiction, dealing with matters of discipline in the fleet i.e. crimes and offences involving English ships and crews committed at sea or along the English coastline but outside of a country’s territorial waters, and also a civil jurisdiction dealing with questions of piracy and spoil.
Originally there were three separate Admiralty Courts sitting in three different parts of the country, each being presided over by a Deputy of the Admiral of the Fleet, but these courts merged early in the 15th century into one high Admiralty Court. The legal procedures were generally based on the common law, but because disputes were often of an international nature, occasionally it began to use Roman civil law rules as used in mainland Europe. It also began to acquire jurisdiction over commercial and other common law cases, taking such work from the common law courts. This brought it into conflict with the judges of these courts, whose position prevailed, and the Admiralty Court began to lose its influence during the 17th century. However, during the 18th century it again rose to prominence, mainly because of the exercise of its prize jurisdiction following various maritime battles.
The establishment of the Supreme Court of Judicature in 1875 abolished the old higher courts (including the High Court of Admiralty) and established the High Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal.
The High Court of Admiralty was established in 1340 to deal primarily with questions of piracy or spoil but later developed a jurisdiction in prize and a civil jurisdiction in such matters as salvage and collision, based on Roman or civil law. Actions could be taken against ships and goods as well as against persons. Soon after the restoration in 1660 the civil business of the court divided, with an instance court and a prize court.
The criminal side passed to the Central Criminal Court in 1834. When the Supreme Court of Judicature was established in 1875 the civil law business of the court joined the other civil law courts in the creation of the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division of the High Court of Justice.en