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Colonial Cases

The Direct United States Cable Company v. The Anglo-American Telegraph Company, 1877

[injunction, telegraphy]
 

The Direct United States Cable Company v. The Anglo-American Telegraph Company

Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
20 January 1877
Source: The Times, 20 January 1877

LAW REPORT.
JUDICIAL COMMITTEE OF THE PRIVY COUNCIL, Jan. 20.
(Present - Lord Blackburn, Sir James Collier, Sir Barnes Peacock, Sir Montague Smith, and Sir Robert Collier.)
THE DIRECT UNITED STATES CABLE COMPANY v. THE ANGLO-AMERICAN TELEGRAPH COMPANY.
  This was an appeal from an interlocutory order of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland, confirming a writ of injunction whereby the respondents were restrained from constructing, purchasing, taking or operating any line or lines of telegraph on the Island of Newfoundland, and  from extending to, entering upon, or touching any part of that island or its coast with any cable, wire, or other means of telegraphic communication from any other island, country, or place, until the hearing of the cause or further order; but with a provision permitting the appellants to continue a cable which they had already laid to Conception Bay so long as it should not be made a means of telegraphic communication, and to bring and move within the jurisdiction of the Colony any telegraphic cable then being laid by them, so as it should not be landed or brought to shore, or made such means of telegraphic communication. The respondent claimed a monopoly of telegraphic rights in Newfoundland by virtue of certain Colonial Statutes, and alleged that the appellants had infringed their monopoly. The appellants denied that what they had done was any infringement of such monopoly, even if the respondents' claim was sustainable, and they also submitted that the monopoly was forfeited, and, at all events, did not belong to the respondents.
  The appellants contended that the exclusive rights conferred by the local Statute on the New York, Newfoundland, and London Telegraphic Company, now consolidated and merged into the Anglo-American Telegraphic Company, applied only to telegraphs laid upon so as to touch the shore of the Colony, and not to any telegraph laid below low-water mark off that shore, and still less to any telegraph laid, as their (the appellants) line was,  more than three miles off; that such rights applied only to telegraphs establishing communication with the Colony and not to wires which only passed under water by or along the shore; that every part of their cable was beyond the jurisdiction of the Colonial Courts; that the appellants were not subject to the laws of the Colony; that the rights and privileges conferred upon the respondents were conditional on the performance of certain express duties which they had failed to discharge, and that those rights had not validly passed to the respondents.
  The respondents urged that they were entitled to the benefit and protection of the local Act and to the exclusive privileges conferred or secured to the Newfoundland colony; that the appellants' cable had extended to and touched upon the Island of Newfoundland contrary to the prohibition and enactments of the local Act; and that the appellants had infringed the rights of the respondents, the continuance of such infringement being likely to tend to irremediable damage to the latter.
  The case was not concluded at the rising of the Court.

Source: The Times, 22 January 1877

LAW REPORT.
JUDICIAL COMMITTEE OF THE PRIVY COUNCIL, Jan. 20.
(Present - Lord Blackburn, Sir James Collier, Sir Barnes Peacock, Sir Montague Smith, and Sr Robert Collier.)
THE DIRECT UNITED STATES CABLE COMPANY v. THE ANGLO-AMERICAN TELEGRAPH COMPANY.
  The arguments in this appeal from Newfoundland - reported in The Times of Saturday, - were concluded during the day, and their Lordships intimated that they would take time to consider their verdict.
  Mr. Fry, Q.C., and Mr. Bunting were counsel for the appellants; Mr. Benjamin, Q.C., Mr. Horace Davey, Q.C., and Mr. J. Beaumont for the respondents.

Source: The Times, 15 February 1877

Lord Blackburn, in giving judgment, intimated that as the injunction appealed against was only until the approaching hearing of the case, and nothing had been allowed to prejudice the case, their Lordships would humbly advise Her Majesty that the interlocutory order of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland should be affirmed, and the appeal dismissed, with costs.

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