HL Deb 03 May 1934 vol 91 cc1090-2

[The reference is to Bill No. 65 as printed for the House of Commons.]

Clause 13, page 11, line 17, leave out from the beginning to the end of line 20 and insert ("and the jurisdiction of the Court to hear and determine any claim mentioned in this subsection shall, save as provided in paragraph (e) thereof, be exerciseable wherever the owners or part owners of any ship in respect of which the claim is brought may be domiciled").


My Lords,I need only detain your Lordships about two minutes with reference to this matter. The Amendment is to correct a small slip which was found to exist in this Bill after it left your Lordships' House and before it came on in another place. The first and most important part of the Amendment is to leave out of paragraph (g) of Clause 13 (1) the words: unless it is shown to the Court that at the time of the institution of the proceedings any owner or part owner of the ship was domiciled in England. The whole of paragraph (g) including these words was taken from paragraph (xii) of Section 22 of the Supreme Court of Judicature (Consolidation) Act, 1925, which set out the admiralty jurisdiction of the High Court. It is an extremely technical matter, but the object was to assimilate the admiralty jurisdiction of the County Court to that of the High Court, except as regards pecuniary limits.

Paragraph (g) relates to what may be called "commercial court" claims. A typical case would be where a consignee of goods wishes to claim against the shipowner for short delivery. In such cases the Court of Admiralty had jurisdiction only where the shipowner was not domiciled in England, whilst the County Court had jurisdiction irrespective of the shipowner's domicile. This was a strange exception to the general rule that the County Court admiralty jurisdiction was carved out of the jurisdiction of the Court of Admiralty, but it was established by judicial decision. The effect of the Bill as drafted, and as it left this House, was to take away this peculiar jurisdiction of the County Court; and though the County Court on its Common Law side had concurrent jurisdiction up to £100, the result would have been to deprive litigants in claims between £100 and £300 from trying such cases in the County Court at all.

Attention, as I have said, was drawn to the matter, and it was clear that the Bill must be amended; and the Amendment on the Paper was moved by the Attorney-General and carried. The object of the last part of the Amendment is to make it clear, as a matter of construction, that so far as paragraph (g) is concerned, it is intended by Parliament that it should mean what it says, and should not be subject to any implied limitation based on the corresponding paragraph in Section 22 of the Judicature Act. The reference to paragraph (e) is required because in that paragraph there are similar words about the owner being domiciled in England. It relates to claims for "necessaries." There the County Court admiralty jurisdiction is and always has been the same as that of the High Court (except for the pecuniary limit) and nobody has suggested altering that position. While it makes a great practical difference whether the County Court has admiralty jurisdiction in a case or not, even if it be only exercised in personam, it makes less practical difference whether the admiralty jurisdiction of the High Court is wide enough to cover a claim against a ship owned by a shipowner domiciled in England. In the High Court there is the alternative of suing in the Commercial Court; and if by mistake the action is commenced in the Admiralty Division, it can be retained in that Division by leave of the Judge. I regret to have had to trouble your Lordships with this technical matter. I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons Amendment.

Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendment.—(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.



Brought from the Commons; read la; and referred to the Examiners.

The LORD CHANCELLOR acquainted the House, That the Clerk of the Parliaments had laid upon the Table the Certificate from the Examiners that no Standing Orders are applicable to the following Bills:

Ministry of Health Provisional Order (Blackburn),

Ministry of Health Provisional Order (Shipley).

The same was ordered to lie on the Table.