The apprehension and detention at sea, of a ship or other vessel, by authority of a belligerent power, either with the design of appropriating it, with the goods and effects it contains, or with that of becoming master of the whole or a part of its cargo. The vessel or goods thus taken are also called a prize. Goods taken on land from a public enemy, are called booty, and the distinction between a prize and booty consists in this, that the former is taken at sea and the latter on laud.
In order to vest the title of the prize in the captors, it must be brought with due care into some convenient port for adjudication by a competent court. The condemnation must be pronounced by a prize court of the government of the captor sitting in the country of the captor, or his ally; the prize court of an ally cannot condemn. Strictly speaking, as between the belligerent parties the title passes, and is vested when the capture is complete; and that was formerly held to be complete and perfect when the battle was over, and the spes recuperandi was gone. contracts. A reward which is offered to one of several persons who shall accomplish a certain condition; as, if an editor should offer a silver cup to the individual who shall write the best essay in favor of peace.
In this case there is a contract subisting between the editor and each person who may write such essay that he will pay the prize to the writer of the best essay.
By prize is also meant a thing which is won by putting into a lottery.
Engl. law The name of court which has jurisdiction of all captures made in war on the high seas.
In England this is a separate branch of the court of admiralty, the other branch being called the instance court. The district courts of the United States have jurisdiction both as instance and prize courts, there being no distinction in this respect as in England.