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Piracy


Law and Sea.
Piracy. New Old story.

Ignorance of history lessons never did any good. And history of shipping says that since the earliest years of seaborne trade it has been steadily accompanied by the piracy on the high seas. Admittedly, the central powers were not always successful in defending their merchant fleets and ports, nevertheless all European Sovereigns of the past were only too ready to show that no sentence is hard enough for pirates. It goes without saying that legal rules against the pirates were extremely harsh.
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Right of Search of Ship in Time of Peace
Last updated: 06-Oct-2014

Per Sir W. Scott in Le Louis (1817) 2 Dods 210, December 15, 1817 at p.243-244:

Upon the first question, whether the right of search exists in time of peace, I have to observe, that two principles of public law are generally recognised as fundamental. One is, the perfect equality and entire independence of all distinct states. Relative magnitude creates no distinction of right, relative imbecility, whether permanent or casual, gives no additional right to the more powerful neighbour; and any advantage seized upon that ground is mere usurpation. This is the great foundation of public law, which it mainly concerns the peace of mankind, both in their politic and private capacities, to preserve inviolate.

The second is, that all nations being equal, all have an equal right to the uninterrupted use of the unappropriated parts of the ocean for their navigation. In places where no local authority exists, where the subjects of all states meet upon a footing of entire equality and independence, no one state, or any of its subjects, has a right to assume or exercise authority over the subjects of another. I can find no authority that gives the right of interruption to the navigation of states in amity upon the high seas, excepting that which the rights of war give to both belligerents against neutrals. This right, incommodious as its exercise may occasionally be to those who are subjected to it, has been fully established in the legal practice of nations, having for its foundation the necessities of self-defence, in preventing the enemy from being supplied with the instruments of war, and from having his means of annoyance augmented by the advantages of maritime commerce. Against the property of his enemy each belligerent has the extreme rights of war. Against that of neutrals, the friends of both, each has the right of visitation and search, and of pursuing an enquiry whether they are employed in the service of his enemy, the right being subject, in almost all cases of an enquiry wrongfully pursued, to a compensation in costs and damages.


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