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THE TWELFTH EDITION.
Much of our Maritime Law is to be collected from the decisions of our courts, which are mainly founded on usage and established custom, as well of our own as other countries, and many of the celebrated Codes and Laws hereafter referred to have assisted the courts in the decisions they have come to. There are, however, many statutory enactments relating to merchant shipping and maritime matters which have much altered, and now to a great extent regulate the Maritime Law of this country. It may be advisable to say a few words respecting some of the above-mentioned Codes and Laws.
Maritime Codes and Laws have been compiled and made in different ages and countries.
The Rhodian Maritime Laws are the most ancient, and some of these Laws were adopted by the Romans.
Il Consolato del Mare, the earliest Code of Maritime Laws of modern Europe, was first printed in the 14th century. These Laws are the most ancient authentic sea Laws after those of the Greeks and Romans. They prevailed in the Mediterranean, and were established in concert with other trading countries by the Venetians and Genoese in the time of their naval power and commercial
prosperity. These Laws are treated with great respect by all maritime Europe.
The Laws of Oleron (a small island off the coast of France) are so called from the place of their publication. These Laws were first established in the 12th century. They are the ancient usages generally received, which it is said Richard I., on his return from the Holy Land to Oleron, revised and approved for matters marine, and which all the people of the West afterwards received for those affairs. (Sir L. Jen., vol. I., p. 87.) England and France contend for the honour of having originated this system of Laws.
The Laws of Wisbuy were published in the 12th or 13th century. This place for some time was one of the most celebrated markets of Europe. It seems that all the people of the North observed these Laws.
The Laws of the Hanse Towns were first enacted and promulgated in 1597 at Lubeck, one of the Hanse Towns. They were framed by a General Assembly called together for that purpose, and were in extensive application among the northern powers of Europe. These Laws appear to be founded on the Laws of Oleron and Wisbuy.
Marine Ordinances in the time of Louis XIV., published in 1681, which have been said to be a monument of the wisdom of his reign. These Laws were compiled from the maritime regulations of France and other States, and from the experience of commercial men ;-they refer generally to Maritime Law. Valin published a Commentary on them, which has become celebrated, and is very often referred to in our law books.
English translations of the Laws of Oleron, Wisbuy, the Hanse Towns, and of the Marine Ordinances of Louis XIV., will be found in the Appendix to Peter's Admiralty Decisions.
The works of many learned and celebrated foreign authors are referred to in the course of this work.
Le Guidon is a French work; it was published in the 16th century, and relates chiefly to bottomry and in
Cleirac was a French author, who published in 1647 Usages and Customs of the Sea.
Roccus was a Neapolitan lawyer; he published a work on Maritime Law in 1655.
Casaregis was an Italian judge; in the following century his work was published. He is said to be one of the best of all maritime authors.
The well-known works of Pothier, Emerigon, Pardessus, &c., are referred to.
Something here also ought to be stated as to the Admiralty Jurisdiction, but it must be remembered that this work does not profess to treat of the Admiralty jurisdiction or of the practice in Admiralty cases. Before the Judicature Acts the High Court of Admiralty had jurisdiction to try all maritime causes, that is to say, causes in respect of things done on the high seas, and generally, except where otherwise provided by statute; in order to give such Court jurisdiction, things must have arisen wholly upon the sea and not within the precincts of any county (a). Many cases in which this Court had jurisdiction will be noticed in the course of this
(a) See the Black Book of the Admiralty.
work. In some cases it had exclusive jurisdiction. There were several statutes affecting the jurisdiction and practice of this Court, and in particular 3 & 4 Vict. c. 65, and the 24 & 25 Vict. c. 10, which extended the jurisdiction and improved the practice of this Court, and made it a Court of Record. The jurisdiction conferred by this latter Act might be exercised either by proceedings in rem or in personam. This method of proceeding in rem was peculiar to this Court, and sometimes it was in order to avail themselves of the advantages thus afforded that suitors resorted to it.
Before the Naval Prize Act, 1864 (27 & 28 Vict. c. 25), the judge of the Court of Admiralty by Royal Warrant exercised in time of war the office of judge of the Naval Prize Court, and his Ordinary Court was distinguished from his Prize Court by the name of the Instance Court. By this statute (sect. 3), which commences by reciting that “it is expedient to enact permanently, with amendments, such provisions concerning naval prize, and matters connected therewith, as have heretofore been usually passed at the beginning of a war," it is enacted that “the High Court of Admiralty, and every Court of Admiralty or of Vice-Admiralty, or other court exercising Admiralty jurisdiction in Her Majesty's dominions, for the time being authorised to take cognizance of and judicially proceed in matters of prize, shall be a Prize Court within the meaning of this Act. Every such court, other than the High Court of Admiralty, is comprised in the term “Vice-Admiralty Prize Court,' when hereafter used in this Act;” and by sect. 4, " The High Court of Admiralty shall have jurisdiction throughout Her Majesty's dominions as a Prize