Great Lakes Rule Law and Legal Definition

The great lakes rule is a principle of maritime law whereby an admiralty litigant is entitled to a jury trial in a contract or tort action if the lawsuit arises from the operation of a commercial vessel on the Great Lakes or the navigable waters connecting them. The provision is codified at 28 USCS § 1873 which reads as follows:

In any case of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction relating to any matter of contract or tort arising upon or concerning any vessel of twenty tons or upward, enrolled and licensed for the coasting trade, and employed in the business of commerce and navigation between places in different states upon the lakes and navigable waters connecting said lakes, the trial of all issues of fact shall be by jury if either party demands it.