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to the fluent dictum that “ ' place of business is decisive for all purposes of national character in war.” The place of business was in Khartoum; the domicile of two of the three partners was at Hamburg. Evans, P., held that their property in a cargo of beeswax shipped by the firm in neutral or British territory was confiscable as enemy property on board a British ship. The question of the position of the remaining one-third was not raised, as the Crown waived the point that the third partner, though managing the business in Egypt, was certainly a subject of, and probably domiciled in, Germany. There is no doubt of the correctness of the President's decision-but it may come as a surprise to those who have assumed that German firms which are continuing their operations here can export and import goods without liability to capture. Possibly the fact that the Crown does not interfere with them, or does put them under supervision, may be construed by the Court as equivalent to a licence to trade. In the latter event it certainly is; but (apart from the Alien Enemy Cases) it does not appear to be so in the former.
Captors' Freight.-The Roland.
In this case the Court wisely and properly (if it may so be said) adhered to the established rule, according to which no freight is to be paid to the captor for goods on board ships which are seized as enemy property and taken to an unexpected destination. Any other rule would, as Lord Stowell said, in The Fortuna, involve an inquiry difficult of execution and uncertain in result. The goods have not been taken to the place where the owner wanted them. No one can say exactly what he ought to pay for having them taken where the captors have brought them. In The Roland the argument in favour of allowing a reference to ascertain a proper sum to be paid to the captors as pro rata freight was attempted to be fortified by an allegation that the German Municipal law—the law of the flag under which the shipment was made—allows it. Such a rule cannot alter the general principle laid down by our Court as a rule of International law, over-riding all municipal legislation, including our own.
Belgium. The penal requisitions which are said to have been imposed by the Germans as a means of coercing Belgian refugees to return to the country cannot be defended. The sole legitimate purpose of requisitions is to serve as a substitute for the supplies which, according to the usage of war, might be demanded for the subsistence of an army from the territory it occupies. Penal requisitions are quite illegal; and they cannot have the excuse of military necessity, unless that can be pleaded for any and every measure which a belligerent thinks desirable.
Retaliation in War. We have touched above on the retaliatory measures directed against German trade. The further question remains of the propriety of retaliatory measures against German officers. Submarine officers who have attacked merchant vessels are, it seems, though well treated, subjected to a certain moral stigma by being segregated from other prisoners. Germany protested, and it might have been regarded as a sufficient reply, to observe that Great Britain would be quite content if all British officers in German hands were treated as well. The question has been too much treated in the Press as though the reprisals exercised on these officers were intended as a form of penalty upon them personally. Colour was unfortunately given to this view by the official statement which talked of inability to recognise them as honourable opponents. It was unnecessary and impolitic to adopt this line. Vicarious retaliation is a common thing in war. To retaliate on the instruments of a supposed improper policy is quite permissible as a means of putting stress on the authors of that policy-and it need not be coupled with a denunciation of the tools, who, if not entirely innocent, are yet placed in a difficult and delicate position. There are some acts which are so brutal and shocking that the instrument cannot even be excused by instant terror. But there are others which may conceivably be represented to a subordinate officer as dreadful, but justifiable, exercises of the rights of war. In these cases, the better policy is to avoid personal quarrels with the subordinate—though it may be politic, and is certainly lawful, to treat him with severity.
The analogy of the spy does not help us much. For the spy is always and necessarily a volunteer and a free lance. He acts singly; and if he does not like his allotted job, he can easily desert. As was pointed out in these columns three or four years ago, the spy is treated severely because of the personal quarrel which the soldier originally had with him. He betrayed his confidence. And he betrayed it deliberately. For he was outside the power of his own
. side, and he chose to carry out his treachery.
The Alien Enemy Cases. These were briefly alluded to in our Notes of last February. A perusal of the judgments in extenso only confirms the view that the decisions depart from established precedent on little or no authority. Civil War cases are not enough: a rebel remains a subject. Wells v. Williams is not enough: it was decided on very particular facts, to which the Court does not allude, but Alciator v. Smith is directly in point, and is ignored. The opinions of Lords Davey and Macnaghton in Janson v. Driefontein Consolidated
Mines, Ltd., are ignored. As to the status of foreign-owned companies, registered in this country, it is agreeable to find the views expressed in these pages adopted in full by Sir H. B. Buckley, the first authority on Company law. On the whole, the judgments in the other cases fail entirely to convince; or even to adduce food for argument. They merely assert.
Force Majeure. In Millar v. Taylor (ist and 8th March, 1915), it was decided that the prohibition of the export of sugar and confectionery, issued on August 10th, cancelled a contract for the sale of confectionery for export. The performance of the contract, i.e., the mere delivery in the United Kingdom, would appear to be neither impossible nor illegal-but in fact it would have been so, since the course of business was that the vendors were really exporters. The Customs authorities paid them the sugar drawbacks as on an export, and although the country of export would subsequently be determined by the British purchasers, the contract of the vendors was benevolently regarded by Rowlatt, J., as a contract to export. Its performance thus became illegal; and being illegal (for however short an actual period) by British law, there was no need to inquire whether it was an impossibility for the cessation of which the parties might reasonably be required to wait. It instantaneously cancelled the engagement. It is difficult to follow this reasoning, and to regard an Irish firm who engaged to supply goods to England for future export, as an exporter merely because, for convenience, the Customs drawbacks were paid when the goods left Ireland. If the contract was to supply goods, not as exporters, but for export, the stringent rule discharging the contract would be inapplicable. We should have to apply the much more difficult rule which cancels a contract when its fulfilment depends on the existence of a particular state of affairs—in this case the continued power of the purchaser to export. The Coronation Seat Cases threw the law on this subject into the vaguest uncertainty. Previously, it was agreed that a change of circumstances made no difference-unless it destroyed a specific thing, the subject matter of the contract: or destroyed the personal capacity of an individual to execute it. But these cases extended the cancellation to all instances where both parties contemplated a certain state of affairs, as the foundation of the contract. And since it was also held that cancellation leaves sums in the nature of premiums irrecoverable, the inequitable result follows that A. may lose all benefit from a contract with B., whilst unable to recover from that personage sums already paid under it-at any rate, if the payment was not voluntary and premature, Was, then, the continued power of immediate export the foundation of the contract in the eyes of both parties? Is it not more likely that, if they had been interrogated on the matter, both would have said that of course they expected export to be uninterrupted, but that, if it were not, the buyer would assume the risk ?
The case is a good example of the difficulties which must necessarily arise when the apparently benevolent rule of the Coronation Seat Cases is put in actual application. No one can say how far the parties thought of contingencies, thought of them as conditions of the contract, or would have regarded them had they thought of them. That they probably never thought of untoward events by no means shows that they meant their contract to be subject to all going well and smoothly.
Requisition. The Antares. In The Antares (Times, ist and 8th March, 1914), a particularly audacious argument was advanced. A Swedish vessel had been brought in on suspicion that her copper cargo was contraband. Once within the jurisdiction, it was claimed by the Crown in virtue of its powers to requisition supplies under