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546
SEAMEN, LAWS RELATING TO


the Slave Trade Acts. A riotous assembly of seamen to prevent the loading or unloading of any ship or to prevent others from working is an offence under 33 Geo. III. c. 67. Deserters from Portuguese ships are punishable by 12 and 13 Vict. c. 25, and from any foreign ship by Ii and 16 Vict. c. 26, b virtue of conventions with Portugal and ot er foreign powers. Tihe rating of seamen is now regulated by the Merchant Shipping Act 18 4, s. 126. By that act a seaman is not entitled to the rating of “ K.B.” unless he has served four years before the mast, or three years or more in a registered decked fishing vessel and one year at sea in a trading vesse .

The act of 1894 enables contributions to seamen's refuges and hospitals to be charged upon the mercantile marine fund. There appears, however, to be no grant in support of seamen's hospitals out of any public funds. The principal seamen's hospital is that at Greenwich, established in 1821 and incorporated by and 4 Will. IV. c. 9 under the name of" The Seaman's Hospital Society." Up to 1870 this hospital occupied the old “ Dreadnou ht ” at Greenwich, but in that year it obtained the infirmary of Greenwich Hospital from the Admiralty at a nominal rent, in return for which a certain number of beds is to be at the disposal of the Admiralty. This hospital with others is supported by voluntary contributions, including those of many foreign governments. At one time there was an enforced contribution of sixpence a month from the pay of masters and seamen towards the funds of Greenwich Hospital, levied under the powers of some of the Greenwich Hospital Acts. The payment of these contributions enabled them to receive annuities from the funds of the hospital. These “ Greenwich Hospital sixpences, " however, became the source of very considerable irritation and were discontinued. In their place a purely voluntary seamen's provident fund was established, its object being to persuade seamen to subscribe sixpence a month towards the seamen's hospital.

The remedies of the seaman for wages are an ordinary action in the king's bench division or plaint in a county court, an action in fem or in personam in the admiralty division of the High Court (in Scotland in the Court of Session), a colonial °~"1°=- court of admiralty, or a county court having admiralty jurisdiction, or summary proceedings before justices, naval courts, or superintendents of mercantile marine offices. The master has now the same remedies as the seaman for his wages, under which are included all disbursements made on account of the ship. At common law he had only a personal action against the owner. He has the additional advantage of being able to ensure his wages, which a seaman cannot do. A county court having admiralty jurisdiction may entertain claims for wages where the amount claimed does not exceed £150 [County Courts (Admiralty jurisdiction) Act 1868, s. 3]. Wages cannot be attached. They may be forfeited or reduced by desertion, smuggling, and other kinds of misconduct. In O'Neil v. Armstrong, 1895, 2 K.B. 418, it was held by the court of appeal that a seaman, though he had not completed the voyage, could recover his full wages where war breaking out added a risk to the employment which was not in his contemplation at the time of his engagement. In actions in all courts of admiralty jurisdiction the seaman has a maritime lien on the ship and freight, ranking next after claims for salvage and damage. The amount recoverable summarily before justices is limited to £?o. Orders may be enforced by distress of the ship and her tack e. Proceedings must be taken within six months. A naval court on a foreign station may determine questions as to wages without limit of amount.1 As a rule a seaman cannot sue abroad for wages due for a voyage to terminate in the United Kingdom. The superintendent of a mercantile marine office has power to decide any question whatever between a master or owner and any of his crew which both parties in writing agree to submit to him. These summary remedies are all preserved by the act of 1894. The act further provides that, where a question as to wages is raised before a superintendent, if the amount in question does not exceed £5, the superintendent may adjudicate finally, unless he is of opinion that a court of law ought to decide it. The Merchant Seamen Act 1880, by a section not repealed by the act of 189, and the Workmen's Compensation Act 1906, put seamen on aleveil with other workmen. A county court or court of summary jurisdiction (the latter limited to claims not exceeding £I0) may under the act of 1875 determine all disputes between an employer and workman arising out of their relation as such. The jurisdiction of courts of summary jurisdiction is protected by the enactment of the act of 1894, that no proceeding for the recovery of wages under £50 is to be instituted in a superior court unless either the owner of the ship is bankrupt, or the ship is under arrest or sold by the authority of such court, or the justices refer'the case to such court, or neither owner nor master is or resides within 20 m. of the place where the seaman is put ashore. Claims upon allotment notes may be brought in all county courts and before justices without any limit as to amount. In Scotland the sheriff court has concurrent jurisdiction with justices in claims for wages and upon allotment notes. The Remedies

In the absence of appeal the order of a naval court is conclusive. Hunan v. Ras S.S. Co., 1907, 1 K.B. 834. By s. 68 of the act of 1906 an appeal lies to the High Court of justice. representatives of a deceased seaman may claim damages for his death in cases within the Fatal Accidents Acts 1846 and 1864. It has been held that the action lies where the deceased is a forejgn seaman on a foreign ship (Dazridsson v. Hill, 1901, 2 K.B. 606

Where a seaman is discharged before a superintendent in the United Kingdom, his wages must be paid through or in the presence of the superintendent, and in the case of home-trade ships may be so paid if the master or owner so desire. The master must in every case deliver either to the superintendent or to the seaman a full account, in a form approved by the Board of Trade, of the wages and of all deductions therefrom; such deductions will only be allowed if they have been entered by the master during the voyage in a book kept for that purpose, together with a statement of the matters in respect of which they are made. Where a seaman is left abroad on the ground of his unfitness or inability to proceed on the voyage, the account of wages must be delivered to the superintendent, chief officer of customs, consular officer, or merchants, from whom the master obtains the certificate without which he may not leave the seaman behind. To protect seamen from crimps, advance notes, or documents authorizing or promising the future payment of money on account of a seaman's wages conditionally on his going to sea from any port of the United Kingdom, and made before those wages had been earned, were from 1880 to 1889'wholly void. No money paid in respect of any such document could be deducted from a seaman's wages. Since 1889 this restriction has been removed to the extent of one month's wages, provided that the agreement'with the crew contains a stipulation for such advance, but this does not extend to cases where the seaman is going to sea from any port not in the United Kingdom. In such cases there is no limitation upon the right to make any agreement for advances or to make advances to any amount.

As under the former law, the scale of provisions as amended by the act of 1906 must be entered in the agreement with the crew, and compensation made for short or bad provisions, and means are provided whereby the crew can raise complaints. In addition, in the case of ships trading or going from any port in the United Kingdom through the Suez Canal or round the Cape of Good Hope or Ca Horn, the provisions and water are put under inspection by tli; Board of Trade, and if they are deficient, the ship may be detained until the defects are remedied. By the act of 1906 a certificated cook must be provided for foreign-bound ships. If a seaman receives hurt or injury in the service of the ship, the expense of medical attendance and maintenance, together with the cost of bringing him home, is to be borne by the owner of the ship, and cannot be deducted from wages.

The safety of the crew is aimed at by provisions which are designed to prevent overloading and under manning, and generally to prevent ships from being sent to sea in an unseaworthy state. The stringency of these provisions has been much L°“d une increased. .Life-saving appliances, according to a scale and rules prescribed by the Board of Trade, must be carried by every British ship. 'Exceptwhere the ship is under 80 tons register, employed solely in the coasting trade, or is employed solely in fishing, or is a pleasure yacht, the position of each deck above water must be marked by conspicuous lines, and the maximum load line in salt water, to which it shall be lawful to load the ship, must be marked at such level as may be approved by the Board of Trade below the deck line, and in accordance with tables and regulations prescribed by the Board of Trade. It is this load line which is commonly known as the Plimsoll mark. It is an offence to load a ship so as to submerge the load line, and a ship so loaded may be detained as unsafe. Dangerous goods. e.g. explosives, must not be shipped or carried without being distinctly marked as such. Timber must not be carried on deck in the winter months. In the carriage of grain cargoes, rules prescribed by the Board of - Trade to prevent shi ting must be complied with. The officers of the Board of Trade (subject to appeal to a court of survey from an order of final detention) have power to detain a ship which is, by reason of the defective condition of the hull, equipments or machinery, or of under manning, overloading or improper loading, unfit to proceed to sea without serious danger to human life. Provision is made for the investigation of complaints by seamen that a ship is unfit to proceed to sea. The Public Health Act 1904 enables regulations to be made for carrying into effect international conventions as to insanitary vessels and conveyance of infection by vessels. By s. II of the Workmen's Compensation Act 1906, a ship may be detained by order of a court of record on allegation that a foreign owner is liable to pay compensation under the act.

The manning of British merchant ships has received much consideration, but has hitherto been little affected by statute law. The effect of the acts is thus given in the report, issued in 1896, by a -Board of Trade committee on the M"""""¥ manning of merchant ships: “ Since the final repeal fggftm of the Navigation Laws, which required that the master and three-fourths of the crew of every British ship should be

British subjects, and reserved the coasting trade entirely to