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Neutrality

ship, foreign, war, service, dominions, person and licence

NEUTRALITY is the relation a nation bears to other nations which are at war one with the other, and consists of the entire abstinence of that nation from any participation in the war, and an impartiality of conduct towards each belligerent. This relation may have a material effect upon the commerce of the neutral nation. If its subjects engage with a belligerent in a com merce of goods which are contraband of war, the nation cannot object to a prevention of that commerce ; nor has it any ground of complaint if a sub ject's property is seized in consequence of his attempt to commit a breach of blockade; nor if a belligerent exercises the right of search. The Foreign Enlistment Act, 1870, contains some important provisions relating to this subject. Not only goes it impose penalties on British subjects who enlist in the service of a foreign State at war with a State friendly with this country, and on any subject vilo leaves his Majesty's dominions with a view to such service, but it also penalises any person who induces either of the above offences, or who persuades any one to leave the dominions under false repre sentations as to service. Of more practical importance to the commercial man, however, are sonic other provisions of the Act. The master or owner of a ship incurs a heavy penalty if, without licence, he takes on board any illegally enlisted persons ; and, moreover, the ship will be detained until his conviction or acquittal, or until he has given security for the penalties. Illegal shipbuilding and illegal expeditions.—No one within the dominions of the King may build or agree to build a ship with tbe intent, or having reasonable cause to believe, that she will be employed in the military or naval service of a foreign State at war with a friendly State, unless he has first obtained the licence of the Crown. Nor can any one issue or deliver a com mission for a ship with a like intent or cause of belief ; nor so equip a ship; nor so despatch a ship, or cause or allow her to be despatched. The penalty for contravention is a fine and hard labour, and the ship in respect of which the offence is committed, and her equipment, will be forfeited to the Crown.

But, subject to certain conditions, no one will be liable in respect of the fore going offences if the acts constituting them have been done in pursuance of a contract made before the commencement of the war. These conditions are :—(1) If the person concerned forthwith upon the proclamation of neutrality gives notice to the Secretary of State that he is building, causing to be built, or equipping the ship, and furnishes such particulars of the contract, and of any matters relating to, or done, or to be done under the contract as he may be required ; (2) If he gives such security, and takes and permits to be taken such other measures, if any, as the Secretary of State may prescribe for ensuring that the ship will not be despatched, delivered, or removed without the licence of his Majesty until the termination of the war. Presumption as to evidence.—" Where any ship is built by order or on behalf of any foreign State when at war with a friendly State, or delivered to or to the order of such foreign State or any person who to the knowledge of the person building is an agent of such foreign State, or is paid for by such foreign State or such agent, and is employed in the military or naval service of such foreign State, such ship shall, until the contrary is proved, be deemed to have been built with a view to being so employed, and the burden shall lie on the builder of such ship of proving that he did not know that the ship was intended to be so employed in the military or naval service of such foreign State." Aiding warlike equipment, if done within time British dominions without the licence of the King, is also time subject of fine and imprisonment. This offence may consist of adding to the number of guns, or changing those on board for other guns, or adding, or being know ingly concerned in adding any war equipment to the warlike force of a ship which at the time of her being within these dominions was a ship in the military or naval service of a foreign State at war with a State friendly to Great Britain.