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Colonial Cases

Li v. Melchers, 1892



Li v. Melchers

Source: North China Herald, 5 August, 1892.

LI v MELCHERS; Adjourned.

Source: North China Herald, 12 August, 1892.


On the whole I think the case set up on behalf of the junk has entirely broken down. She was not at anchor, and she was not run into as alleged. Having failed in her main allegation it is needless to take up much time in discussing the other allegations on which the learned counsel for the plaintiffs argued he was entitled to a verdict, because the defendant's evidence on these is entirely uncorroborated. I think a proper lookout was kept, and that the junk was sighted as early as might reasonably have been expected, and if she was not seen sooner it was the fault of those on board the junk in having no light. I think the porting of the steamer's helm when the junk was first seen, and again when she changed her course, was a right and proper manoeuvre, and that they were not bound to starboard. And lastly, in reply to the final allegation that the steamer neglected to keep clear of the junk, though this in itself is too vague to rest an action on, the answer is that she would have kept clear but for the sudden and wrongful act of the junk herself in altering her course at the last moment, and so running into the steamer. There can be but one rule for steamers and sailing vessels meeting or crossing, and that is the plain and simple one that the sailing vessel must keep her course. If she does that the whole responsibility of keeping clear rests with the steamer.  Captain Clutterbuck, the Nautical Assessor, whose assistance has been of the greatest value to me during the hearing, entirely agrees with this decision.
  I therefore find the junk wholly to blame, with costs, and there will be the usual reference, if desired, to settle the damage on the counter-claim.

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