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transfers of ships to be by bill of sale or other instrument in writing, which is also required by the new registry act. (a) This provision is partly on account of the great value of this species of property, and the frequent occasions on which it is absent at very remote places from the supervision of the owner ; and, in part, as an additional security to the public policy of the registry acts. These written documents thus constitute a title, by means of which the transfer of vessels is greatly facilitated, and is publicly recorded, and in most cases they are the only means by which such transfer can be made. When any ship is to be sold, she is, of course, either absent upon the seas, or in her home, or in some other port. If absent upon the seas there are necessarily no means of transfer but by assignment of the grand bill of sale ; and such bill of sale, together with its due entry in the book of registry, according to the provision of 4 Geo. 4. c. 41., is a perfect transfer of the property. (6) Upon the return of the vessel to her home port, the buyer should confirm his purchase by an indorsement on the certificate of registry within thirty days, or his claim may be defeated by an intervening bankruptcy, or by some subse
quent transfer, which may be first registered. (c) Possession ne
II. It is the same with respect to the purchase of a vessel in her
home port. The forms of the registry acts must be observed.prudential precaution, though It is always usual, and, indeed, matter of prudence, for the purnot actually re
chaser to take actual possession of the ship : but it seems necesquired by law.
sary as an act of caution rather than as a requisite of law. For provisions of 4 Geo. 4. c. 41. the title to personal chattels by the common law vests in the
owner all possessory rights, and he is entitled to maintain actions of trespass or trover without a manual possession of the chattel itself. If a part only of a vessel be sold, it is manifestly impossible that such actual delivery should be made; and, in any case, where such possession is necessary, the possession of the other partowners will enure to the benefit of a purchaser of a part.
Before the new registry act, an actual possession was absolutely
necessary to complete the title of a mortgagee, against an intervenMair v. Glen- ing bankruptcy. In Mair v. Glennie, the plaintiffs were assignees nie, 4 Maule
of T. Mair, a bankrupt; the defendants were assignees of Sharp and Co. T. Mair, the bankrupt, had transferred a ship and cargo.at sea, to Sharp and Co., the other bankrupts, as a security for money borrowed : but, upon the arrival of the vessel in her home port, Sharp and Co. neglected to take possession, or to do any act to notify the transfer of the property to them. Upon these cir
cessary as a
Sed vide new
88. 43 and 44.
and Selj. 210.
(a) 4 Geo. 4. c. 41. s. 29.
(6) For the forms which the registry acts requirc, and the mode of
complying with them, see ante, Chapter on the Registry Act.
(c) Sec ante, 4 Geo. 4. c. 41. s. 37.
cumstances the Court of King's Bench determined that the pro-
(c) But see the amendment made in *C. 41. ss. 43. and 44. the law, in this respect, by 4 Geo, 4.
transmitted without these forms in cases of bankruptcy generally, we see no reason why it may not be so done in a particular case, falling within the scope and operation of the statute of James, though these forms have been complied with in a conveyance to others, i. e, the Sharps; such conveyance being fraught with all the mischief that statute was meant to prevent. The register acts make certain forms necessary to the validity of transfers and conveyances, which antecedently would have been good and valid without them: but it was never intended by the Legislature thit a compliance with these forms should give validity to a transfer and conveyance which antecedently would have been bad and invalid, and we think such an effect ought not to be attributed to them.” (a)
IV. A point nearly similar was again brought before the court in
Hay and Others, assignees of Matthews, against Fairburn. (1) Hay o. Fair
Matthews, the bankrupt, the registered owner of the ship Dolburn, 2 Barn. and sid. 193. phin, assigned her, then being at sea, as a security for his debt
to the defendant Fairburn. The deed contained a covenant by Fairbura to re-assign upon payment of the debt, and the more important condition, that, until the sale of the ship, Matthews was to be permitted to have, hold, and enjoy the same, and to receive the ship's earnings for his own benefit. All the requisites of the registry acts were complied with so as to vest the legal interest in Fairburn. At the time of the execution of the assignment Matthews had possession of the vessel, and continued in possession, and in the apparent exercise of ownership, until his bankruptcy. The defendant never interfered in any way with the conduct or management until the 1st of June, 1816, when he took possession, displaced the master, and appointed one under himself. The commission against Matthews issued on the Ilth of May, 1816, under which he was duly declared a bankrupt. Fairburn's demand upon the ship had been reduced by payments to about 595l. ; he sold the ship, and the proceeds remained in his hands. The question for the opinion of the Court of King's Bench was, whether the bankrupt was not to be considered the ostensible owner under the 21 Jac. 1. c. 19. The court gave judgment for the plaintiffs, on the authority of the case of Robinson v. Macdonnell : but, on account of its importance, they permitted
(a) 2 Barn. and Ald. p. 196, where this judgment is cited. And 5 Maule and Selw. 288. And see the alteration made, by the new registry act, in the law as to the mortgage of ships,
and the application of 2 Jac. 1. c. 19. to the reputed ownership in cases of ships, ante, Chapter on the Registry Acts.
(6) 2 Baro, and Ald. p. 193.
it to be turned into a speciál verdict. The case was afterwards heard in the Exchequer Chamber, and the judgment of the Court of King's Bench confirmed.
V. These cases illustrate, very strongly, the expediency, not to say the prudential necessity, of confirming a purchase of ships by an actual possession as soon as possible; not, as we have above said, that such possession is necessary to complete a title in law: but as a caution to remove such contracts from any possible operation of the bankrupt acts, and from the presumptions of courts upon cases where an execution may issue against an apparent owner.
Thus, in the recent case of Kirkley v. Hodgson, which was Kirkley v. determined under the following circumstances. A. B. being sole 1 Barn. and owner of a ship, by indenture of the 24th June, 1819, assigned Cress. 588. three-fourth shares of it to a creditor, as security for a debt. The deed contained clauses by which the creditor was to re-convey the three-fourth shares upon payment of his debt; and a power of sale was given to the creditor, in case the debt was not paid within a given time. No possession was given, and A. B. was to be permitted to freight the ship, and to load cargoes from time to time, &c., and was to insure the ship for the amount of the debt in the name of the creditor; or otherwise to assign the policies to him. At the time of the execution of the deed, the ship was absent from her port of registry on a voyage to North America: but all the forms prescribed by the ship registry acts, as to the transfer, were duly complied with. The ship returned to her port of registry in July 1819, and was constantly employed from that time till February 1822, by A. B. in carrying cargoes for his own use, and on his sole account; and he continued during all that time in the actual possession of the ship, and proceeded to manage and navigate her without the interference or controul of the creditor. A. B. having become bankrupt, it was decided in the King's Bench, that as he had once been the real owner of the ship, and had never done any thing to make it notorious to the world that he had ceased to be the owner of the three-fourth shares, he continued to be the apparent owner of those shares, with the consent of the true owner, down to the time of the act of bankruptcy, and, therefore, that those shares passed to his assignees, as property, in his order and disposition, within the meaning of the 21 Jac. 1. c. 19. (a).
(The Reader is referred to the for insertion in this Treatise, 1 Barn. very learned judgment of Mr. Justice and Cress. 596. Bayley in this case, which is too long
Of the transfer VI. Amongst the other benefits conferred upon the mercantile and mortgage of ships, and body by the new registry act, 4 Geo. 4. c. 41., it is perhaps the shares of ships, most important, that by a series of brief and perspicuous clauses, by 4 Geo. 4. c. 41.; and the it has not only afforded the greatest possible facility to the transfer qualification of the 21 Jac. 1.
of ships, and shares of ships, but has, at the same time, so quac. 19. s. 11. (as 'lified the general law, and particularly the act of 21 Jac. 1. c. 19, to reputed ownership) in as to reputed ownership, as to give to the transfer and mortgage of such cases of mortgage and
a ship, or shares of a ship, a degree of security never hitherto postransfers. sessed by them. By the 29th section, the statute of 4 Geo. 4.
c. 41., as we have shewn in the Chapter on the registry acts, requires all transfers of ships, or shares, to be by bill of sale
, or other instrument in writing. By the 35th section, no such bill of sale, or other instrument in writing, is valid to pass the property of a ship, or share of a ship, until such bill of sale shall be produced to the registering officer of the ship's port, and an entry of such bill of sale and its particulars, be made by such officer in the book of registries. And if the ship's certificate of registry shall be produced to the officers at the same time (as in common prudence it ought to be, if the ship be in the port of transfer at the time) the registering officers are directed to make an indorsement of such bill of sale upon the certificate of registry. And further (for the convenience of future transfers) the same officers are directed, if required, to certify (by indorsement on the bill of sale) that such sale has been duly entered and indorsed on the certificate of registry. By the 36th section, such entry in the book of registers shall render the bill of sale or mortgage valid and effectual to pass or bind the property to all intents and purposes ; subject only to the following limitations, that is to say, that when the bill of sale has been so entered, thirty days from the date of entry (if the ship be in her port), or thirty days from the day of the ship's arrival in her port (if she shall be absent) shall be allowed for the production of the certificate of registry, and for the indorsement upon it of the particulars of the bill of sale. If the certificate be then produced and indorsed, the transfer is complete, and passes the property. If it be not then produced, any other transfer (the parties to which shall first produce the certificate) will be entitled to such indorsement, and of course to a priority of property in the ship or share. By the 44th section of the same act, when any mortgage has been so duly registered, the rights of the mortgagee will not be affected by any act of bankruptcy of the mortgagor, although such mortgagor may be at the time the reputed owner of the ship or share, and may have the order and disposition of the same.