Union Bridge Company Claim American and British Claims Arbitration

In 1898, after the outbreak of war between GB and Orange Free State, the claimant company delivered material to Port Elizabeth under a contract with the government of the latter state. It claimed damages arising out of the removal of the material from Port Elizabeth by train to Bloemfontein, without its consent by an order of the storekeeper of the Cape Government Railways, and agent of the British government and its subsequent sale.

Mr Harrison purported to act upon instructions given to him, ‘to forward all bridge material intended for the Orange Free State railways to the Imperial military railways. He made two mistakes: 1) the material was neutral property 2) it was intended for a road, not a railway bridge. The consignment of the Material to Bloemfontein was a wrongful interference with neutral property. It was certainly within the scope of Mr Harrison duty as railway storekeeper to forward material by rail, and he did so under instructions that fix liability on this Britannic Majesty’s government. That liability is not affected by the fact that he did so under a mistake as to the character and ownership of the material, or to the fact that there was no intention on the part of the British authorities to appropriate the material in question.