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Colonial Cases

Conequid Marine Insurance Company v. Bartreaux, 1875


Conequid Marine Insurance Company v. Bartreaux

Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
17-18 March 1875
Source: The Times, 19 March, 1875

(Present - Sir James Colville, Sir Barnes Peacock, Sir Montague Smith, Sir Robert Collier, and Sir Henry Keating.)
  This was an appeal from the judgment of the Supreme Court of Halifax, Nova Scotia, discharging the rule nisi obtained by the appellants for a new trial in an action brought against them by the respondent.
  Mr. Watkin Williams, Q.C., and Mr. Wood Hill were counsel for the appellants; Mr. Cohen, Q.C., and Mr. Grantham for the respondent.
  The original suit was brought upon a policy of insurance for £4,000 on the brigantine Foyle, of which vessel the respondent was the principal owner. The company resisted the claim on the ground that the alleged loss was caused by the fraud and negligence of the respondent and his servants, and not by the perils insured against. The vessel left the harbour of Lingan, Nova Scotia, on the 16th of June, 1869, on a voyage to Boston with coals. Half an hour after getting under way she ran upon a sunken reef close to the shore, but although part of the cargo was thrown overboard and steam tugs came to her assistance, all attempts to get her off were futile. The wind was then rising, the vessel rolling heavily, and the swell of the Atlantic was coming in. The master (who was a part owner) went on shore to note his protest, and under the advice of three surveyors, the vessel as she lay was at once sold by auction. Her value, with the cargo, when she sank was nearly £10,000, but the sale only realised about £1,000. Curiously enough, the purchaser was one of the surveyors, acting for some relations, and it was equally noticeable that after the sale the danger in which the ship had been was so far averted that she was, with great difficulty, rescued from her perilous position, and towed back into port. The case was tried before the Chief Justice (Sir William Young) in October, 1871, and the jury in the end awarded the respondent, upon his insurance policy, £3,326.  The company afterwards obtained a rule nisi for a new trial on the ground of misdirection and the improper rejection of evidence. The Supreme Court, on hearing the arguments, discharged the rule, and from that order the present appeal was instituted.
  Sir Henry Keating said their Lordships were of opinion that the case ought to have gone back for a new trial, and they would, therefore, humbly advise Her Majesty to reverse the decree of the Supreme Court and to make absolute the rule for a new trial which the company had obtained. The costs in the Court below and of that of the appeal must abide the event.

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