INSTANCE COURT, Eng. law. The English court of admiralty is divided into two distinct tribunals; the one having, generally, all the jurisdiction of the admiralty, except in prize cases, is called the instance court; the other, acting under a special commission, distinct from the usual commission given to judges of the admiralty, to enable the judge in time of war to assume the jurisdiction of prizes, and' called Prize court.
2. In the United States, the district courts of the U. S. possess all the powers of courts of admiralty, whether considered as instance or prize courts. 3 Dall. R. 6. Vide 1 Gall. R. 563; Bro. Civ. & Adm. Law, ch. 4 & 5; 1 Kent, Com. 355, 378. Vide Courts of the United States; Prize Court.