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leave to add, that if I had known nothing more of Lord STOWELL than his public reputation, and had seen nothing of him but in his judgments, I should have taken the liberty to introduce this Work to the profession by the aid of his distinguished name. It is no small pride to me, my Lord, that in this respect private feelings concur with public duty, and that this opportunity is afforded me of expressing my gratitude for a consideration and kindness, which I need not be told that I owe more to your Lordship’s courtesy, than to any merits of my own.
I have the honour to remain,
With the highest respect,
Most obliged and obedient Servant,
FRANCIS LUDLOW HOLT.
Paper Buildings, Temple,
THE reader will observe that the present Treatise, now comprised in one Volume *, is divided into three parts. The first part treats of the Shipping and Navigation Laws; in other words, of that system by which the maritime trade and commerce of the country are regulated, and which has become of the first importance to the professional lawyer and the merchant, since the general peace has restored these laws to their ordinary operation, and removed the unnatural state which the necessities of the late war had induced. +
In the first part, the following subjects are discussed: 1. The Origin and Policy of the Laws of Shipping and Navigation, &c.—2. The Plantation or Colonial Trade.3. The Trade with Asia, Africa, and America, not being Colonial, &c.—4. The European Trade.-5. The Coasting Trade.—6. The Fisheries.—7. The Registry Acts.8. Seizures and Forfeitures for the breach of the Navigation Laws, Registry Acts, &c.
* First printed in Two Volumes.
+ On account of the great changes made in these laws by the recent statutes, the first part of this work has been almost wholly rewritten,
In discussing these subjects respectively, the Author has first considered the several acts of Parliament by which they are regulated; he has then passed to the cases and decisions to which they have given rise; and concluded with a summary of Rules and ExCEPTIONS.
In this Treatise the Author has omitted every thing not strictly connected with his subject. Custom-house regulations, duties, drawbacks, and all the general details of trade, are not noticed, except incidentally, and very briefly, as they are not comprehended within the plan of the present Work. It became necessary, however, in discussing the trade with Asia, Africa, and America, to consider the constitution of the several trading companies now existing, and more particularly that of the East India Company. And in treating upon the European trade, a brief review of our commercial relations with other countries was thought expedient. But the Author has dispatched these subjects with as much brevity as was consistent with clearness and utility ; insisting upon nothing but what is necessary to the practical lawyer and merchant, and what may operate in cases brought before our own courts of law.
The Chapter on the Registry Acts will perhaps be deemed disproportionately long : but the great importance of the subject, and the variety of the cases, rendered it necessary go into detail, even to minuteness, on a subject upon which the property of shipping and the security of transfers so essentially depend. Since the late Registry Act, these cases are perhaps of less importance; but they could not be omitted with any propriety, as the principles of many of the decisions must be applicable to cases under the new system. The Chapter on Penalties and Forfeitures has been annexed, on account of the importance of the subject matter.
The second part of this Treatise, in which is discussed the law of Merchant Ships and Seamen, consists of seven Chapters. In this Part every subject is examined relating to owners, part-owners, and the title and interest in British shipping, whether acquired by building, purchase, mortgage or otherwise :-the qualifications and duties of masters, seamen, pilots, &c.; of the power and authority of the master; of hypothecation and bottomry; and the sale of the ship, freight, or cargo, in cases of necessity. This Part treats likewise very fully of seamen's wages; of the manner of earning them; of the forfeiture of wages, and of suing for and recovering them. The several acts for the regulations of pilots and convoys are likewise treated in their order; and the cases and decisions respecting Merchant Ships and Seamen, together with the acts of Parliament, are brought down to the time of the publication of this Treatise.
The third part treats of Maritime Contracts generally, with the exception of those which relate to marine insurance. It treats of charter-parties ; demurrage; bills of lading; of the duties of freighters, ship-owners, and masters ; of exceptions to the liabilities of owners under charter-parties ; of the common law extent of their responsibility; and of the latitude given to their specific exemptions under the clause of exceptions of sea-perils, &c. It then passes to freight, lien, general average, stop-page in transitu, and salvage. Under each of these heads are respectively considered those principles and distinctions, in one or the other of which all the cases must fall. As far as the Author's labour and industry could succeed in accomplishing his purpose, he can undertake, he hopes without presumption to assert, that he has omitted no case whatever of any importance in the Admiralty or common law courts.
As the subject of the present Treatise, however laboriously and minutely it may be explained, is, in many parts, remote from general apprehension, and perhaps not very alluring as respects popular interest and curiosity, the Author has prefixed an INTRODUCTION, for the purpose of exhibiting a more brief and intelligible synopsis both of the reason and policy of the general system of our Shipping and Navigation Laws, and of those main and leading principles upon which the decisions of the courts have proceeded, in almost all the cases comprehended under the second and third parts of this Treatise. As respects this object, the proper character of the Introduction is, that it is the connected exposition and arrangement of the principles of the law of shipping and maritime contracts, disembarrassed from the cases; and if the Writer have in any tolerable degree effected his purpose in this part of his Work, the reader will possibly find a great body of law condensed into a small compass. It is trusted that the Appendix of Acts of Parliament, the Tables, and Indexes, will be found useful to the profession.
For the convenience of reference, and the accommodation both of the professional and mercantile reader, the present Treatise is printed in one Volume; the type employed being smaller, and the page larger, than in the former edition. *
* The First Edition was printed in two volumes octavo, January 1820.