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Colonial Cases

Steamship Chittagong v. Steamship Kostrona, 1901

[shipping, collision]

Steamship Chittagong v. Steamship Kostrona

Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
27 July 1901
Source: The Times, 29 July 1901

LAW REPORT, July 27.

JUDICIAL COMMITTEE OF THE PRIVY COUNCIL.

(Present - LORD DAVEY, LORD JAMES of HEREFORD, LORD ROBERTSON, and SIR RICHARD COUCH.)

THE OWNERS OF THE STEAMSHIP CHITTAGONG v. THE OWNERS OF THE STEAMSHIP KOSTRONA.

This was an appeal from a judgment of the Supreme Consular Court Constantinople, in Vice-Admiralty, of August 1, 1900.

Mr. Butler Aspinall, K.C., and Mr. T. F. Dawson Miller appeared for the appellants; Mr. Joseph Walton, K.C., and Dr. Charles Stubbs for the respondents.

The arguments were heard recently before a Board composed of Lord Hobhouse, Lord Davey, Lord James of Hereford, Lord Robertson, and Sir Richard Couch, when judgment was deferred.

LORD JAMES of HEREFORD, in now delivering their Lordships' judgment, said in the Consular Court the appellants - the defendants in the suit - were declared to be liable in consequence of a collision between the two vessels having been caused by the negligent navigation of the appellant's vessel, the Chittagong.  The collision occurred in the following circumstances:-

On March 4, 1900, the Chittagong was anchored in the Bosporus on the eastern or European side below the Palace of Dolma Bagtrche.  She was lying at the usual anchoring ground, heading up the Bosporus.  In order to continue her voyage to Singapore, about 10 30 in the evening of March 4 she weighed her anchor, and after steaming slowly ahead for a short distance she proceeded to turn short round.  At that time the Kostrona was coming up the Bosporus from the Sea of Marmora, and the Chittagong would, whilst turning, be running across her course.  It seemed to be admitted that the Chittagong was by her movement on a wrong course in a wrong position, whilst the Kostrona was on a right course.  But on the part of the Chittagong it was urged at the Bar that although by putting her helm a-starboard she was on a wring course, the Kostrona by observing the lights or by giving heed to "the two blasts" from the Chittagong could have ascertained without doubt the course the Chittagong was taking, and could have avoided the collision by altering or deviating from the right course on which she was.  It was, however, answered that the lights of the Kostrona were open to the observation of those on board the Chittagong, and the one short blast given twice from the former vessel was a distant notice that she was continuing on her course.

The Judge in the Court below came to the conclusion that in the circumstances the Chittagong should have ported her helm, and that if that had been done the collision might not have occurred.  Their Lordships also were of opinion that the collision was solely occasioned by the negligence of those on board the Chittagong.  Whilst it was not a decisive fact, yet it was the most important in its effect that the Chittagong was pursuing a wrong course at the time of the collision, and that such wrong course ought not to nave been persisted in after it was known that the Kostrona had not altered hers. The latter vessel, being on her right course, was justified in assuming that the Chittagong would give way and not persist after being warned in following a wrong course.

Their Lordships were informed by their nautical assessors that the initial fault of the Chittagong was in having tried to make too sharp a turn, and they also expressed a strong opinion that there was negligence on the part of those who had charge of the Chittagong in not reversing her engines and going astern when they found that the Kostrona was pursuing her course.

Their Lordships would, therefore, humbly advise his Majesty that the judgment of the Court below should be confirmed, and that the appeal should be dismissed.  The appellants must pay the costs of the appeal.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School