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PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.
The first edition of this work having been exhausted, I have added the cases decided since its issue, and substituted the Shipping Casualties Rules, 1895, which came into force on March 17, 1895, for those previously contained in Appendix VIII. Hardly sufficient time has elapsed to judge if the book has fulfilled the purpose with which it was written, namely, to supply a working edition of the Act. But with reference to a criticism made by an experienced reviewer that the decisions on the Collision Regulations have not been inserted, I may say that after some hesitation I decided to omit them, because I did not think any satisfactory annotation could be inserted without seriously increasing the size of a work already too bulky, and without repeating work already satisfactorily done by Mr. Marsden. For the same reason I have not made the part of the Act relating to Salvage a full treatise on Salvage.
Should it be found that the book permanently supplies a want, I think such annotations might usefully be added in another edition, which might also include the Acts dealing with the Admiralty Jurisdiction, whether of the High Court or the County Courts, in whatever form they may then exist.
I shall be gratified for any criticisms or suggestions which may render the book more useful to those for whom it was intended-practising lawyers and men of business.
T. E. S. 3, TEMPLE GARDENS, E.C.,
July 22, 1895.
The Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, is the longest Act on the Statute Book, consisting, as it does, of 748 sections and 22 schedules. It repeals thirty-three entire Acts, and parts, more or less substantial, of fifteen others. A few very trivial and temporary provisions are left outstanding, and, which is more important, the statutes as to Admiralty jurisdiction, especially the Admiralty Court Act, 1861, are left unconsolidated, it is to be hoped only to reserve them for a consolidation of the Judicature Acts.
When the Merchant Shipping Bill was first introduced into the House of Commons in 1893, it was found that the draftsman, in his passion for symmetry and elegance, had made changes of the most sweeping description in the language of the Acts, which, when much labour had been spent on examining them, were too frequently discovered to have effected, without meaning to do so, substantial changes in the law. By the direction of the Joint Committee of the two Houses, to whom the Bill was referred, the original language of the statutes consolidated was, as far as possible, restored; and, except where the language has been changed to give effect to decided cases, as in 57 of the Act, this rule has substantially been carried out. Many provisions of the old Acts which could be changed by authorities other than Parliament have been omitted from the body of the statute, and will be found, either in the schedules to the Act, or in rules printed in the
Appendix. Thus those parts of the provisions of the Act of 1854 relating to tonnage, which can only be altered by Parliament, are to be found in the statute itself; the tonnage regulations which can be altered by the Board of Trade have been relegated to Schedule II.
All the cares of the Revising Committee and the draftsman have been unable to make a complicated subject simple. The Act is explained by 31 chief definitions in § 742, and by at least as many more in the Interpretation Act, 1889, besides numerous minor ones scattered up and down the fourteen parts of the Act. Whenever the reader meets the word "consular officer,” he has to recall to his mind the definition in this Act or in the Interpretation Act, according as the consul is foreign or British. But while "
ship," "master,” and “seaman," each has its more or less comprehensible definition, “crew," " owner," and “ British ship,” remain undefined.
The rearranging of clauses has frequently resulted in startling displacements. The complete law as to ablebodied seamen, as such, was formerly found in one short section of the Act of 1880; part of it now appears in § 126 of this Act, but the rest has been removed to § 746. A still more sweeping change has been effected in § 3 of the Act of 1854 as to registration, part of which remains as § 3 of this Act, while the other part has been removed to § 745. In this case the idea has been to put temporary provisions by themselves; but as this "temporary provision” affects every British ship in existence on January 1, 1895, and will continue to affect them for thirty years or more, the draftsman appears to have codified for posterity, without much regard to present convenience.
There are signs that all this rearrangement and simplification has not been allied with a very clear grasp of the
Acts. For instance, when the old Acts were being consolidated, it would have been very useful to find in one section all the matters which there was any legal obligation to enter in the ship's log; but though the draftsman of $ 240 has recognized, by the 12th sub-section, that there are other matters to be entered than those specified, he has satisfied himself with reproducing the section of the Act of 1854, without incorporating the other obligations as to entries in the log, which subsequent legislation has added. It is true that, to make up for this, part of $ 239, as to entries in the log, is repeated in § 169; but it would have been simpler to have all the provisions as to the log in one place, and none in more than one. Even the combination of the draftsman and a strong committee has not sufficed to prevent some shocking mistakes in the marginal notes to the sections, as in § 624, where the section speaks of ships going to London, and the marginal note of ships from London, or in § 604, where the marginal note requires home-trade ships to carry pilots, and the section does not ; while the grammar of $ 235, s. 1 (c.), where “crew" is made singular and plural in the same sentence, is bad, even for an Act of Parliament. But mistakes must be expected in an Act of this overwhelming length, as well as, I am afraid, in editions of the Act, and it will certainly be convenient to lawyers, as well as mercantile men, to have in one Act of Parliament the tangle that formerly had to be unravelled from forty-eight Acts by much labour.
As regards lawyers, the endeavour has been to make this a working edition of the Act. The cases decided on the old Acts have been cited under the new clauses to which they belong, with notes, where their effect has been destroyed by subsequent legislation. Cross-references have been inserted, to make the task of finding what is in