HC Deb 08 November 1911 vol 30 cc1627-8

asked whether, if two other countries are at war, in the event of one country arming her merchant ships on the high seas and sinking several of our neutral vessels without trial, we should have to abide by the decision of the International Prize Court in the event of such decision being against us?


In the absence of an International Prize Court the owners of British vessels, sunk in such circumstances as the hon. and gallant Member describes, would have no legal remedy except recourse to the National Prize Court of the belligerent, whose decision would necessarily be adverse to any claim for compensation for acts which, according to the law administered by such a Court, would be lawful. The establishment of an International Prize Court would enable British claimants to bring their cases before a tribunal which would not be bound to take the same view as to the legality of the proceedings, and might reverse the decision of the national Court. This would be a pure gain to the neutral owners. Should, on the other hand, the International Court uphold the decision of the national Court, the claimants would be no worse off than they are now. Whether, under the circumstances contemplated by the Noble Lord, we should depart from an attitude of neutrality and go to war is a point that must be decided by the Government that is in power at the time.

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