„It would foüow from the foregoing considerations that the owners of the vessels in question would be entitled to orders of release ; but now arises the difficulty", that of these vessels only one survives, and that all matters occuring during the war are, as between German claimants and the Procmator-General, now to be considered in the light of the Treaty of Versaüles.
Article 2 of Convention VI, after prescribing that the beUigerent's right is hmited to détention of the ship „under an obligation of restoring it after the war without compensation", proceeds : „or he may requisition it on condition of paying compensation". What is this compensation, and when and in what events is it to be paid ? The question is material, because during the period of requisitioning the Blonde was lost by perüs of the sea, without fault on the part of any one responsible, and the Hercules cannot now be restored, because the German combatant forces themselves destroyed her, purporting to do so as a legitimate act of war. The provision is that a detained vessel is simply to be restored without compensation. Nothing is said to impose on the belligerent any duty to provide for her safety, or to effect repairs. If he restores her, he does so without compensation, and meantime she has been detained at her owner's risk. Next, the beüigerent is given an express right to requisition, but on condition of paying compensation
It is no doubt paradoxical that, the ship having been lawftüly requisitioned by the Adnüralty without any obligation to pay for using her, or for the consequences of mere use, His Majesty's Government should be called on to compensate her German owners because the German forces have sunk her by an ülegitimate act of war. The question, however, is one of construction of the article. It begins by substituting détention for confiscation, thus ensuring to the owner the right to get his ship back, so far as the detaining belügerent is concerned. On this is engrafted a proviso for the benefit of the beüigerent, of which he may avail himself, or not as he pleases, and this proviso imposes on him an unqualified condition i— that of compensation. This must be read Uteraüy, and as nothing further is prescribed in favour of the detaining belligerent, he cannot have the benefit of exceptions byimplication. The Convention says that requisitioning is to be on condition of paying compensation; the condition would be frustrated if, although the obligations of the Convention had not been terminated, neither ship nor compensation were forthcoming.
Their Lordships' conclusion is that under Convention VI the subjects to be restored are the Prosper, being a ship which is in specie, and the appraised values of the Blonde, and Hercules, which were lost. No question as to freight was raised before their Lordships.
A further point may be briefly disposed of. It was that in aü cases where a ship is requisitioned otherwise than „temporarüy" under Rule 6 of Order XXIX, the substitution of the appraised value for the ship is definitive, and no order can thereafter be made to take the ship herseü out of the possession of the Adnüralty. There is no authority for this." [Von aussi, a ce dernier sujet, ci-après, § 756™"».]