Copy of a letter addressed by the Board of Trade to the Commissioners of the Customs, on the subject of continuing, for a limited period, the system of registration de nova, in this country, of colonial ships, as practised before the Merchant Shipping Act, 1854, came into operation, and an order of the Commissioners of Customs thereon :-
Office of Committee of Privy Council for Trade,
May 25, 1855.
Various communications having been made to my Lords concerning the inconvenience sustained with respect to ships registered the British Possessions abroad, in consequence of the mode in which the changes effected by the Merchant Shipping Act have been brought into operation, I am directed to bring the subject to the notice of the Commissioners of Customs, and to request their attention to the following observations and suggestions. The cases complained of are twofold :-
- Where a ship being registered in a colony, a bill of sale, or a power of attorney to execute a bill of sale, have been sent by the registered owner to the United Kingdom.
- Where a ship registered in a colony, the registered owner is in the United Kingdom, and wishes to sell her here. In both these cases, the registrars of shipping would, before the 1st of May, have registered the ship, de novo, without waiting to ascertain the state of the colonial register, whilst, since the 1st of May, they have refused to register the ship, de novo, in this Country, and the Commissioners of Customs have supported them in such refusal. This Board entirely concur with the view which the Commissioners have thus taken of the principles on which the system of Ship Registry should be carried into effect. One of the most important objects of the system introduced by the recent Act, is to prevent a ship from being disposed of in two places, to two different persons at the same time ; and to effect this object, it is necessary that all dealings with the registrar of the ship should either be effected at her port of registry, or appear on the register book, kept at that port. If it is wished to sell or mortgage the ship in any part of the empire other than that in which the ship is registered, statuary powers of attorney for the purpose (called in the Act 'Certificates of Sale or Mortgage ') can be procured at the port of registry. These certificates will confer a perfect title on those who take under them, whilst, as they will be entered on the register book at the port of Registry, persons who might desire to purchase or lend money on the ship there, will have full notice of their existence. My lords consider it of very great importance for the interests of shipping that these Certificates should be brought into use as quickly and as universally as possible, and that nothing should be done which would have the effect of permanently infringing the principles of to new system or of inducing persons concerned in shipping to believe that it will henceforward be possible to confer a title to a ship by say means except those which the Act, and the regulations which have been issued under it, point out as necessary. But since it appears that it has, under former Acts, been the practice to register Colonial ships de novo is this country upon the production of duly executed bills of sale, without first ascertaining the state of the Colonial register ; and since it further appears that many ships have lately been sent, and are now being sent from the colonies, for the purpose of being sold in this country, according to the practice which has heretofore prevailed, and that considerable inconvenience would be caused if the new system were brought into stringent operation. My Lords wish to suggest to. the Commissioners the expediency of adopting the following relaxations, to take affect at once, and to last during such time only as may be necessary to bring the new system into operation :-
- Ships registered in the colonies may, for such time as hereinafter mentioned, be registered, do novo, in this country, upon the production of such documents or evidence of title as the registrars have heretofore been in the habit of receiving as sufficient.
- In all such cases the vendor or his agent shall give to the registrar security that the transaction shall be completed, and that the registrar and the commissioners shall be kept harmless from any loss or damage which they might incur if it were to happen that the ship was in the meantime disposed of in the colony. A suggested form of bond for this purpose in enclosed.
- The vendor or his agent must fill up, and sign and deliver to the registrar at the port of registry, de novo, a form of application to the registrar at the port of original registry in the colony, calling for a transfer of the registry under the provisions of the Act. This application the registrar at the port of registry de novo, will forward with the old certificate of registrar in the colony. A suggested form of application is enclosed, with forms of letters from the registrar in this country to the colonial registrar, and of the reply to be sent by the latter.
- On registering the ship de novo, the registrar will insert in his book the words Registry to be transferred from the port of _________,' and, on receiving the requisite information from the Colonial Registrar, he will write under those words ' Registry completed by transfer from the port of __________; wish the date
- The relaxation is to take effect at once, and to last, as to ship registered in the American Colonies, until the end of September, and as to ships registered in more distant colonies until the end of February next. The effect of the relaxation will be to place the persons who accept the title in this country in as good a position, as far as regards registry, as they could have enjoyed under the former practice, whilst they will have the additional advantage (which they could not have had under former Acts). that their equitable title to the ship will, under the provisions of the new Act, be perfectly good.
I am, &c.,
T. H. Farrer.
May 30, 1855
The aforegoing extract of a letter from Mr. Farrer, Secretary for the Marine Department at the Board of Trade, is, together with a copy of a form of bond, and of the other forma referred to, transmitted to the Collector and Comptroller at _____for their guidance.
By order of the Commissioners,
F. G. Gardner."
SG & SGTL Vol 12 ; Page 204 ; 3 Sep 1855
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