Page images
PDF
EPUB

only. Considering, however, that these rules form a code on this subject (Heinemann v. Hale, above), dealing with process in firm names, the presumption would seem to be that their intention was to lay down one uniform rule for process in the case of foreigners trading in England under firm names, whether such traders were really firms or only apparently so, viz. that they should be liable to action in the name which they used for trading here. But whether these rules were meant to apply to all such foreign traders in firm names or not, they at all events recognize firms carrying on business in England, as bodies having a legal independent existence here, like corporations.

The London Maritime Law Conference.

The International Maritime Committee, which held its second annual conference in London on July 14 and 15 last, will have made remarkable progress towards its ideal of unifying the maritime laws of the various countries, if it can obtain legislative sanction to the conclusions adopted at its discussions. The recent London Conference, attended by representatives of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Holland, Italy, Japan, and the United States, adopted resolutions to the effect, that (1) in case of collision caused by fault of both ships, the damage to the ships occasioned by the collision should be divided between them in proportion to their respective degrees of fault (the present Belgian law, as opposed to the German and English systems); (2) that the same principle should be applied to the claims of the cargo owners and other third parties who have suffered damage, only the amount for which each ship is liable being recoverable from her instead of both being jointly and severally liable for the whole damage (the principle of The Milan, Lush, 388, cargo); (3) that a shipowner should be entitled to limit his liability in respect of loss or damage to property

afloat or ashore caused by the faulty navigation of his ship by (a) abandoning his ship and freight (French and German systems), or (6) by paying a fixed sum per ton to the injured party (English system), but this rule to have no application to claims for loss of life or personal injury; (4) that the various Governments be requested to hold inquiries into the disadvantages arising from the divergences between the laws of different countries with regard to liability for negligent navigation.

Of these conclusions, that relating to the limitation of shipowners' liability is the most important and interesting, whether theoretically or practically. The Continental systems are based on a principle analogous to that of the "noxal action" in Roman law, viz. that the res doing the damage is to be solely liable to make it good, and the shipowner is not to be liable for the wrongful acts of his master and crew beyond the limit of the value of the ship and her freight. This principle has certainly been embodied in the Continental codes for over two hundred years, and is said by such authorities as Emerigon, Boulay-Paty, Kent, and Phillimore, to have been derived from the old maritime law, although, on the other hand, it has been said that the general maritime law required full compensation to be made out of the property of the shipowner (Lord Stowell, The Dundee, i Hag. 120; Marsden, Collisions at Sea, chap. 7). This latter was the principle adopted by English law, and no limitation of a shipowner's liability was allowed in this country till 1734 and 1785, when the value of ship and freight was fixed as the limit of liability for loss of cargo by theft or loss by fire. It was first allowed in cases of collision in 1812, the limit fixed being the value of ship and freight at or before the collision, whether the ship were lost or not; in 1854, the same limit was fixed for damages in respect of loss of life or personal injury with a minimum of £15 per ton ; and in 1862 the present

figures were fixed, viz. £8 a ton in case of damage to ship and goods, and £15 a ton in case of loss of life or personal injury, whether with or without damage to ship and goods, caused by improper navigation. These figures are admittedly inadequate and disproportional to the present value of shipping, and the British shipowner is placed at a disadvantage with the Continental shipowner in the event of his wrongdoing ship being lost, by his liability to provide compensation to an innocent injured party in addition to the loss of his ship, although in the event of his wrongdoing ship surviving the collision he may have the advantage if his statutory limit is less than the value of his ship and freight. In face of these conflicting principles of a liability in rem, as opposed to a liability in personam of the shipowner, recourse may well be had to considerations of expediency, and the proposed combination of the two systems should help to determine their relative merits.

G. G. PHILLIMORE.

XIII.—NOTES ON RECENT CASES (ENGLISH).

Lyons v. Wilkins, which we referred to at page 261 of vol. xxiii. of this Magazine, as being the possible thin end of the wedge in improving the relations between employers and employed, has now been affirmed by the Court of Appeal. If it is taken to the House of Lords, as appears very probable, the lords will have a charming locus pænitentiæ in which to minimize their rigid decision in Allen v. Flood.

In Mellor v. Tomkinson & Co. (43 S.J. 189) the Court of Appeal gave a further exposition to s. 7, sub-s. I, of the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1897 (60 & 61 Vict. c. 67), and drew a fine distinction between this case and that of

Billings v. Holloway (33 L.J. 577), animadverted on at page 225 of No. 311. There the appellant was injured by the fall of a brick when the wall on which he was working was only twenty-six feet high ; the Court of Appeal held that he could not recover. Here, however, although the wall at the time of the accident was only five or six feet high, yet a chain and pulley were used, which it was admitted might be machinery driven by mechanical power. On this, the Court of Appeal held that the sub-section was to be divided at the word “ demolished ;” and if a building on which an accident occurs be one on which machinery driven by mechanical power is being used, it is not necessary for a workman, in order to come within the Act, to be injured on a building which exceeds thirty feet in height.

Again, in Lowe v. Pearson, the same Court, but not all the same judges, decided that a boy who was engaged on mere manual labour, and was expressly told not to meddle with a moulding machine, yet who, in defiance of the prohibition, meddled with it, and was injured, could not recover under the above sub-section. The accident did not, of course, arise out of and in the course of the employment of the lad; under the facts, the boy could not even be considered as a person acting outside the scope of his employment on an emergency. The case, as

a matter of law, rather resembles that of Smith and Another v. The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Co., referred to at p. 225 of No. 311.

Re Gamble (43 S.J. 128) gives a wholesome lesson to Justices of the Peace, and ought to impress on them the distinction between a complaint and an information. The Guardians of the Poor had made complaint, before the justices of Worcestershire, of the disobedience of Gamble to obey an order of justices to maintain his father. The worthy justices thereupon ordered Gamble to pay certain sums by a certain

day, and on his not doing so, ordered him to be imprisoned for fourteen days. They forgot, however, that s. 6 of the Summary Jurisdiction Act, 1879, enacts that where under any Act, whether past or future, a sum of money claimed to be due is recoverable on complaint to a Court of Summary Jurisdiction, and not on information, such sum shall be deemed to be a civil debt, and if recovered before a Court of Summary Jurisdiction shall be recovered in the manner in which a sum declared by this Act to be a civil debt recoverable summarily is recovered under this Act, and not otherwise. This is very clear law. Section 35 of the same Act is equally clear; it provides that an order for the payment of a civil debt is not to be enforced by imprisonment unless it is proved that the person in default has or has had since the date of the order the means to pay the sum, and has refused or neglected to pay it. Of course, for these reasons, the Divisional Court made a rule for habeas corpus absolute, and discharged Gamble from custody. This case is altogether distinct from that of Reg: v. Paget (8 Q.B.D. 151), but is quite consistent with that of Reg. v. Kerswell (1895] (1 Q.B. 1).

Powell v. Kempton Park Racecourse Co. (66 L.J.R. Q.B. 601) has now been carried to the House of Lords, and we have the final result of the struggle at p. 329 of 43 S.J. The appeal has been dismissed by nine to two, and the proposition is sustained, that where bookmakers do not confine themselves to any fixed spot in the Park enclosure, but carry on their business there in competition with each other, betting with those of the public within the enclosure desirous of betting with them, they use no house, office, room, or other place, for the purpose of betting with persons resorting thereto, within the meaning of s. 3 of the Betting Act, 1853 (16 & 17 Vict. c. 119). This important judgment has far-reaching effects.

It practically overrules Eastwood v.

« PreviousContinue »