1880

CA

The Parlement Belge Court of Appeal UK

The owners of the steam tug Daring served a writ on board the Steamship Parlement Belge, against the owners of that vessel and her freight in which they claim a sum for damages arising out of a collision which occurred between them off Dover. It was contended that this Parlement Belge was not amenable to the process of UK courts; first, on the ground that she is the property of the King of the Belgians and at the time of collision was controlled and employed by him. Secondly that Her Majesty the Queen, by a convention with the king of the Belgians has placed this packet boat in the category of a public ship of war. The Parlament Belge is a packet conveying certain mails and carrying considerable commerce, officered by Belgian offices and flying the Belgian pennon.

I am of opinion that neither upon principle, precedent, nor analogy of general international law, should I be warranted in considering the Parlament Belge as belonging to that category of public vessels which are exempt for process of law in all private claims If the Crown had power without the authority of parliament by this treaty to order that the Parlament Belge should be entitled to all the privileges of a ship of war, then the warrant which is prayed for against her as a wrong doer cannot issue. This use of the treaty making prerogative of the Crown which I believe to be without precedent, and in principle contrary to the laws of the constitution… I must allow the warrant of arrest to issue. On appeal the immunity sought was granted on the ground it was available at customary international law and hence at common law.