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report that the commission of the Judges of the Vice-Admiralty Courts agrees in substance with that of the High Court of Admiralty, and is an instrument of ancient date, and comprehends many subjects, which have been formerly under that jurisdiction, but have been withdrawn, or restrained, by usage or the authority of superior courts. The commission still retains its ancient form, and is acted upon under those limitations in the High Court of Admiralty, according to the principles which have been applied to it, and are as well known as any other general principles on which it proceeds; and I think the same restrictions ought to be applied to the exercise of that jurisdiction in the Vice-Admiralty Courts, except on points on which special jurisdiction may have been given by statute.
Mr. Smith appears to have interpreted the commission on these principles in the first instance. And it is scarcely consistent with the admission "that it was not intended to interfere with the existing courts of justice" that an Extended meaning or intention should now be given to it by the notice in December, 1820, proceeding from no declaration of superior authority, but from the direction of the judge only.
Under these observations I am humbly of opinion that Mr.
Smith should restrain his jurisdiction within the limits of the
recognized usage and authority above referred to, and that the
Court of Vice-Admiralty has not, at this time, a jurisdiction over
transactions of policies of assurance, charterparties, and other civil
contracts, which have been withdrawn from the general jurisdiction
of the Admiralty of this kingdom.
To Earl Bathurst, Christ. Robinson.
&c. &c. &c.
(6.) Joint Opinion of the. Kings Advocate, Sir Christopher Robinson, and the Attorney and Solicitor General, Sir R. Gifford and Sir J. S. Copley, on a Question of Jurisdiction between the Vice-Admiralty and the Colonial Courts at the Cape of Good Hope.
Doctors' Commons, September 8, 1821. My Lord,—We have had the honour to receive your Lordship's commands, transmitting several papers respecting the jurisdiction of the Vice-Admiralty Court at the Cape of Good Hope; and your Lordship is pleased to request our opinion whether the ViceAdmiralty Court has properly cognizance of the case therein described, and similar suits, to the exclusion of the jurisdiction of the Colonial Court; or whether the Colonial Court having been continued by his Majesty in the exercise of the functions originally exercised by them under the Dutch Government, and having then had cognizance of such cases, has not now a jurisdiction over such cases to the exclusion of the Vice-Admiralty Court; and if not, whether the party seizing has an option of carrying the seizure for adjudication either into the one court or the other?
In obedience to your Lordship's commands we have taken the same into consideration, and beg leave to report to your Lordship that we think that, according to the general principle of the Navigation Laws, the Court of Vice-Admiralty would have jurisdiction over seizures for breach of those laws at the Cape of Good Hope, but concurrent with the principal Colonial Court; and we do not think that this principle is affected by the special provisions of the 4!) Geo. 3, c. 17, which, though a temporary law, we presume has been continued by subsequent Acts, as it is referred to in the papers submitted to us. If. however, any serious doubts are entertained respecting the jurisdiction of the Vice-Admiralty Court, either upon the general principle or in the particular case under consideration, those doubts cannot be removed by any instructions which can be given by his Majesty's Government, or in any other manner, than by appeal from the sentence of the Vice-Admiralty
Court or by legislative enactment. _ _
To Earl Bathurst, R. Gifford.
&c. &c. &c. J. S. Copley.
(7.) Joint Opinion of the Queens Advocate, Sir John Dodson, and the Attorney and Solicitor General, Sir Frederick Pollock and Sir William Follett, on the question whether the Supreme Court of Newfoundland could exercise Vice-Admiralty Jurisdiction out of Term.
Temple, March 12,1842. Sir,—We beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 12th ult., wherein you state you had been directed by Lord Stanley to transmit to us the enclosed copy of a despatch from the Governor of Newfoundland, communicating the opinion of the Judges of the Supreme Court, that under the provisions of the imperial statute which invests them with jurisdiction in certain Admiralty cases, they can proceed in such cases in Term time only, and submitting the propriety, if that opinion be well-founded, of reviving the office of Judge of the Vice-Admiralty Court with a view to the more speedy trial of revenue suits.
And you were pleased to request that we would take the subject into our consideration, and report to his Lordship our opinion whether the Supreme Court of Newfoundland, in the exercise of the ViceAdmiralty jurisdiction conferred on it by the statute 5 Geo. 4, c. 67, is or is not at liberty to sit out of Term; and if not, whether the existence of that Act of Parliament will not prevent the exercise by Her Majesty, in her office of Admiralty, of the power of establishing a Vice-Admiralty Court at Newfoundland?
In obedience to his Lordship's commands, we have the honour to report that the Supreme Court of Newfoundland, in the exercise of the Vice-Admiralty jurisdiction conferred on it by the statute 5 Geo. 4, c. 67, is not at liberty to sit out of Term, and that the existence of that Act of Parliament will not prevent the exercise by Her Majesty, in her office of Admiralty, of the power of establishing a Vice-Admiralty Court at Newfoundland.
G. W. Hope, Esq., Frederick Pollock.
&c . &c . &c. W. W. FOLLETt.
(8.) Joint Opinion of the Queen's Advocate, Sir J. Dodson, and the Attorney and Solicitor General, Sir J. Romillv and Sir A. E. Cockburn, on the Power of the Crown to issue Commissions under 46 Geo. 3, c. 54, notwithstanding 12 & 13 Vict, e. 96.
Lincoln's Inn, February 26, 1851. My Lord,—We were honoured with your Lordship's commands, signified in Mr. Merivale's letter of the 15th instant, in which he stated that he was directed by your Lordship to transmit to us the enclosed despatch from the Governor of Antigua. Mr. Merivale then stated that the Anegada Reef, mentioned in this despatch, is
off Anegada, one of the Virgin Islands, and a dependency of Tortola; and that he was to request that we would favour your Lordship with our opinion on the following questions:—
Whether, since the passing of the Act "To provide for the prosecution and trial in Her Majesty's Colonies of offences committed within the jurisdiction of the Admiralty" (12 & 13 Vict . c. 96), it remains in Her Majesty's power to issue commissions to the colonies, as was customarily done under the 46th Geo. 3, cap. 54, for the trial of offences specified in that Act? and whether commissions so issued before that Act are still in force?
The parties charged with the offence referred to in the Governor's despatch were so charged within Tortola, which is a colony, having courts of criminal justice within the meaning of the Act, but to which no commission has ever been issued under the 46th Geo. 3, c. 54; and our opinion was further requested whether it was competent for the authorities of Tortola to have transferred these parties for trial to any neighbouring colony to which such a commission has been issued by Her Majesty (if we considered such commission to be still in force).
Mr. Merivale then stated that he was directed to subjoin a paper which was drawn up shortly before the passing of the Act 12 & 13 Vict., explanatory of the reasons for its introduction. The provision mentioned at the end of that paper, for the transmission of persons charged with these offences from one colony to another, or to England, was withdrawn in the course of the discussions on the Bill.
In obedience to your Lordship's command, we have perused the several documents transmitted to us, and have the honour to report that the 12th & 13th Vict., c. 96, appears to be an enabling statute, not repealing any authority possessed by the Crown prior to it; and we are therefore of opinion that, since the passing of that Act, it remains in Her Majesty's power to issue commissions, as was customarily done under the 46th Geo. 3, c. 54, for the trial of offences specified in this Act, and that commissions issued before that Act are still in force. We think that if the persons mentioned in the despatch of the President of Tortola committed an offence which could be tried by the maritime courts of that island, such persons should now be tried by such court; but if the Governor is convinced of the impossibility of obtaining an impartial trial in the colony, we think that it is competent for him to transfer such persons for trial to another colony, where there is a commission in force.
(9.) Case and Joint Opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown on the Constitution, Authority, and Powers of the Court of Admiralty hi Ireland. 1824.
Case.—The Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty are desirous of ascertaining the whole state of the law as regards the constitution, authority, and powers of the Court of Admiralty in Ireland, and the extent of the jurisdiction of the Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom over Ireland, or the means (if any are necessary) for establishing such jurisdiction. To this end the following statement, papers, and questions are submitted for the joint opinion of his Majesty's Attorney-General of England, his Majesty's Attorney-General of Ireland, his Majesty's Solicitor-General of England, his Majesty's Advocate-General in his office of Admiralty, and the Counsel for the affairs of the Admiralty and Navy in England and Ireland respectively:—
A copy of the commission for executing the office of Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom.
A copy of the letters patent to the present Judge of the High Court of Admiralty of England.
A copy of the commission by King James II., dated 8th July, 1680, being a grant of the office of Vice-Admiral in the province of Leinster. There are no patents of Vice-Admirals of provinces in Ireland recorded in the High Court of Admiralty of England between 1782 and 1801.
A copy of the latest commission granting the same office, being a grant in 1822 to the Earl of Ormond and Ossory. The appoints ments of Vice-Admirals of the English maritime counties are in the same form.
A copy of a commission under the seal of the High Court of
The Right Hon. Earl Grey, &c. &c. &c.