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Colonial Cases

The Ben Voilich v. The Maria, 1889

[shipping, collision]

The Ben Voilich v. The Maria

Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
9 March 1889
Source: The Times, 11 March 1889


LAW REPORT, March 9.


Their Lordships sat to-day to deliver three judgments.


This was an appeal from a judgment of the Judge of the Supreme Consular Court of Constantinople, sitting in Vice-Admiralty, of the 1st of February, 1888.

Sir Walter Phillimore, Q.C., and Mr. J. P. Aspinall appeared for the appellants; Dr. Stubbs and Mr. A. Mattei for the respondents.

The case arose out of a collision between the British steamship Ben Voirlich, 983 tons register, and the Maria, a Greek schooner of 128 tons, in which the Ben Voirlich suffered some damage, and the Maria sank.  The disaster happened in the Grecian Archipelago on the morning of the 25th of November, 1886.  The steamer was then on a voyage from Venice to Odessa in water ballast, while the Maria was going from Ibraila to Cephalonia with a cargo of wheat. 

The case on the part of the Ben Voirlich was that the lights of the Maria were not in their proper position, but that a red light was flashed up somewhere on her starboard side when those on board saw that they were on the point of being run down.  On the other hand, it was alleged that the collision was caused by the negligence of those on board the Ben Voirlich in not keeping a good look-out, and in improperly porting and not reversing her engines.  The Court below held that the Ben Voirlich was solely to blame.

LORD MACNAGHTEN now delivered their Lordships' judgment, and, after reciting the circumstances and reviewing the evidence on both sides, said they had come to the conclusion that the Maria was solely to blame for the collision.  They would, therefore, humbly advise Her Majesty that the judgment of the Consular Court ought to be reversed.  The respondent, the master of the Maria, must pay the costs.

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