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Continuous Voyage

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CONTINUOUS VOYAGE. The doctrine of continuous voyage in international law was invented by Lord Stowell in the early part of the 19th century to meet the case of neutral vessels which, in the war between Great Britain and France, endeavored to evade the rule pro hibiting neutrals from engaiging in the enemy's carrying. trade. This evasion was sought by interposing a neutral port between the point of departure and the forbidden destination. It being unlawful for neutral vessels to trade between a French colonial port and a home port in France they attempted to legalize the voyage by brealcing it at a neutral port, usually in the United States. Lord Stowell held, however, that the two voyages were in effect one and the same, and therefore illegal, although each separate voyage was in itself legal. During the Crimean War the French prize courts extended the doctrine of continuous voyage to the car riage of contraband and such cargoes, bound from one neutral port to another, were con demned whenever the evidence showed that the ultimate destination was in fact a port of the enemy. During the American Civil War the courts of the United States applied the doctrine on a large scale, likewise, to the carriage of contraband and blockade running. Thus British ships, with their cargoes, bound front England to the neutral ports of Nassau or Matamoras, were condemned whenever the evi dence showed that the eventual destination was not a neutral port but in reality a port in the Confederacy. British writers on international law unanimously denied the legality of such an extension of the doctrine of continuous voyage and the British prize courts took the same view. Thus in the case of the /moans decided at the end of the 18th century, Lord Stowell refused to condemn a vessel bound from Dantzic to Emden, both neutral ports, notwithstanding the fact that Emden was situated only five miles from the frontier of Holland, a country with which England was then at war and although it was notorious that the goods were to be reforwarded from Emden to the enemy countc7. During the Boer War however, Great Britain for the first time abandoned her early attitude and undertook to apply the rule which her courts and text writers had formerly con demned, and seized a number of German vessels bound for the neutral port of Lorenzo Marquez in Delagoa Bay, on the ground that the real destination of the cargoes was enemy territory (The Boer Republics). During the Euro pean War the doctrine of continuous voyage was applied by Great Britain on an ex tensive scale to the carriage of goods be tween the United States and the ports of various neutral countries adjacent to Germany and Austria. The Declaration of London sanctions the extension of the doctrine of continuous voyage to the transportation of absolute con traband but forbids it in the case of conditional contraband, except where the belligerent has no sea board. Likewise it forbids the applica tion of the rule to blockade running. Article 35 of the Declaration lays down the rule that conditional contraband is not liable to capture except when found on board a vessel bound for territory belonging to or occupied by the enemy, or for the armed forces of the enemy,. and when it is not to be discharged at an inter vening port. But the British order in council of 29 Oct. 1914 modified this provision so as to extend the rule of continuous voyage to the carriage of conditional contraband and also reversed the established rule by placing on the owner rather than upon the captor the burden of proving an innocent destination. The effect

of the order in council was to obliterate the dis tinction between absolute and conditional con traband—a distinction which had already been largely abolished by putting on the list of absolute contraband many articles which were not so by their nature. The American and other neutral governments protested against the extension of the doc trine of continuous voyage to the carriage of articles of conditional contraband between neutral ports and the establishment of presump tions of hostile destination which, it declared, were based on suspicion rather than upon evi dence. Cargoes of conditional contraband shipped from American ports to the ports of Denmark, Holland, Norway and Sweden, it was argued, could not lawfully be presumed to be intended for the use of the enemy. There was a large local demand in all these countries for such, goods — a demand which had been largely increased by the cutting off of their European sources of supply on account of the war—and it was impossible to admit the right of a bellig erent to determine what proportion of such shipments were intended for local consumption and what proportion was intended to be for warded for the use of the enemy. If after such goods were delivered and became a part of the common stock of the neutral, they were sub sequently resold and reforwarded to a bellig erent, it was in consequence of a new destina tion and the doctrine of continuous voyage did not apply.

To this argument the British government replied that it was unable to admit the conten tion that if a belligerent was so circumstanced that his commerce could pass through adjacent neutral ports as easily as through ports in his own territory, his opponent had no right to intercept such commerce. The position of Great Britain was analogous to that of the United States during the Civil War; the enemy was flanked by neutral countries through whose ports a steady stream of supplies was pouring in for the use of the enemy, and following the practice of the United States during the Civil War, Great Britain was endeavoring to cut off this supply by extending to its carriage the doctrine of continuous voyage, that is, it was endeavoring to prohibit neutrals from doing indirectly what they could not do directly. Under the circumstances the right of blockade and the right to capture contraband goods go ing to the enemy would be largely illusory un less the injured belligerent were allowed to ap ply the rule of continuous voyage to such traffic and seize cargoes whose ostensible destination was neutral territory but whose real destination was armed forces of the enemy. Manifestly the right of a belligerent to thus interfere with trade between neutral countries involves a serious encroachment on the rights of neutrals, but so long as the right of belligerents to block ade the ports of the enemy and intercept con traband trade between them and neutrals is admitted it would seem difficult to deny their right to apply a rule without which the weapons of blockade and contraband would in many cases be worthless. (See also BLOCKADE; CON TRABAND; SEARCH, RIGHT OF). Consult the authorities cited under BLOCKADE; Coerrsta BAND ; and RIGHT OF SEARCH.