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Colonial Cases

Morrison v. Sharp, 1852

[shipping collision]

Morrison v. Sharp

Consular Court, Shanghai
4 October 1852
Source: THE North-China Herald, Shanghai, 30 October 1852



4th October, 1852.


This was an action brought by the Plaintiff Morrison, Master of the Hawaiian Schooner Reindeer, against the defendant Sharp, Master of the British Barque Affghan, to recover compensation for injuries incurred to the Plaintiff's vessel, by collision.  The damages were laid at Drs. 100.

It appeared that on the 2d instant, the Affghan, while swinging to the tide came into collision with the Reindeer, and carried away her jib boom with the gear.  Both vessels were moored, and as they had been so for above three weeks without touching it was simply a matter of taught or slack moorings.

Henry Willis, late Chief Officer of the Candace, deposed to having observed the slack way in which the Affghan was moored.

James Merrilies, Chief Officer of the John Bartlett, deposed to having remarked whilst looking at the Affghan, from the deck of his vessel previous to the collision, that her chains appeared to be very slack for when she  swung to the tide she took a wide sweep.  The Plaintiff had requested him to examine how the Reindeer was moored, and in his opinion it was taught.

Henry Cundy, Master of the Revenue, deposed to being on board the Affghan when the collision took place; the vessels were swinging, and seeing a collision inevitable he hailed the Reindeer to veer away but no notice appeared to be taken.  After being struck cable was given her.  Witness did not know how the Affghan was moored.

The Plaintiff explained that he was below writing at the time, and the people were at dinner, the Mate was on shore on duty, cable was given the moment it could be veered, but the damage had occurred. 

The defendant submitted that no case had been made out by the Plaintiff, that his vessel was in the berth appointed by the Harbor-Master and properly moored, and he could call his Chief Officer to prove it.

The Court in summing up remarked that the notice of trial had been given, and all necessary witnesses should have been in attendance, if adjournments were to take place whenever either party found it convenient, no case could ever some to an end.  The Court had sufficient evidence before it to decide the matter at issue.  Impartial and competent witnesses had clearly deposed to the slack mooring of the Affghan, and to the contrary in the case of the Reindeer.  As far therefore as the cause of damage was concerned the verdict must be for the Plaintiff; the Court would however reserve for further consideration, the amount to be awarded and which must depend in some measure on the sum required to replace the damage incurred.

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