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Colonial Cases

Jameson v. Dewsnap, 1855

[shipping, repairs]

Jameson v. Dewsnap

United States Consular Court, Shanghai
Source: The North-China Herald, 7 April 1855



SHANGHAE, March 31st, 1855.      

Before ROBERT C. MURPHY, Consul U.S.A.

D. O. KING, and W. S. WETMORE, Associates.

JAMESON as Agent for Owners and Underwriters of British Ship Margaret Mitchell.


DEWSNAP as Agent for Owners of Mud Dock.

An "Action on the Case" in damages for £20,000 Sterling.

The Plaintiff claims in damages the value of the ship Margaret Mitchell in consequence of injuries received while hanging in the dock gate.

It appears from the testimony of competent witnesses, that said dock cannot be placed on the same footing as the usual places for repairing ships, in England, America, and other parts of the world, being simply a mud dock, or excavation in the banks of the river, that it has never furnished  ropes for hauling ships in and out, that it has never been advertised or held out to the world as a thoroughly safe and convenient place for repairing vessels; that it is only availed of for that purpose as being  safer than "heaving down" in a rapid tide-way, the only other alternative at this port, for vessels in a damaged condition,. And that the general character and construction of the dock is such as to fairly exempt its owners from responsibility for damages save in case of a special agreement.

In the present case the injuries arose from a defect in the construction of the dock which has always been patent to the world, and which must render it more or less unsafe for all vessels to enter (viz a bar of mud in the dock gates through which every ship must be hauled before she can rest on the blocks and where vessels are liable to take the ground and be left by a receding tide) and does not appear in any way traceable to neglect on the part of the defendant, all the usual preparations and precautions having been made by him.

In the absence of any negligence or malice on the part of the Defendant, or of any specific agreement as to responsibility in case of accident, the Court is of the opinion that this action cannot be sustained and dismisses the case with costs to the Plaintiff.

R. C.  MURPHY, Consul, U.\S.A.


W. S. WETMORE, Associates.

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