The Maritime Contract and Admiralty Jurisdiction: Recent Developments Help Clarify an Inherently Confused Landscape

This Article explores the responses of federal courts in approximately the last dozen years to requests by litigants for the exercise of admiralty jurisdiction over those contracts that in current times form part of maritime commerce. Part II discusses the admiralty jurisdiction of the federal courts generally and outlines types of contracts, which, through well-settled precedent, fall clearly within or outside admiralty jurisdiction. Part II also introduces some of the principles that guide the federal courts in determining whether a contract falls within admiralty jurisdiction. Part III of the Article analyzes various types of contracts that federal courts have encountered of late that have forced them to explore the boundaries of admiralty jurisdiction. Part III also explores the status of the preliminary contracts doctrine and the conflicts that potentially follow recent court rulings. Finally, Part IV surveys other notable cases involving mixed contracts in which the federal courts have confronted the question of whether a particular contract falls within admiralty jurisdiction.