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Colonial Cases

R. v. Norris and Barrow, 1900

[maritime offences]

R. v. Norris and Barrow

Consular Court, Warri (Nigeria)
Source: The Times, 24 December 1900



The Merchant Service guild have recently had occasion to take up the case of Captains R. A. Norris, R.N.R., and J. C. Barrow, commanders of the African Royal Mail steamers Madeira and Ilaro respectively.  When a steamer enters the port of Forcados, West Africa, a Customs officer is placed on board to facilitate trading up the river and creeks.  This officer only leaves when the vessel returns to the port in question.  It appears that the above-mentioned steamers had entered Forcados, taken on board the Customs representative, and then left to trade up the river and creeks in the usual manner.

 Navigation at night in this locality being impossible, both vessels at dark came to an anchor off Forcados, and were immediately ordered by the authorities to come within the limits of the port.  Considering this to be highly imprudent and dangerous, both captains refused to comply with the order, and two days later they were summoned to attend a Consular Court at Warri, a place 40 miles distant, where fines of £10 and £5 were inflicted.

The guild sent a protest to Mr. Chamberlain, and asked for the decisions to be annulled.  Strictures were passed upon the harassing methods of minor Government officials on the West African coast, in so far as the executive officers of merchant ships are concerned.  Mr. R. L. Antrobus, in the course of a long reply on behalf of the Secretary of State, stated that "in each case the fines have been remitted and instructions issued that they moneys should be refunded to the respective masters when they next call at Forcados," and also that "instructions have been issued to the local authorities which will, it is hoped, prevent any mis-understanding in such cases in the future."

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