to Mr. Evarts.
London , March 19, 1879.
Sir: I inclose a cutting from the Pall Mall Gazette of yesterday in relation to a ruling of Sir Robert Phillimore which may interest you.
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Very truly, yours.
Sir Robert Phillimore has given judgment in the case of the steamer Parlement Beige, in a sense which may raise some difficulties between this country and Belgium. He held that the Parlement Beige, a steamer belonging to the Belgian Government, and carrying the mails between Dover and Ostend, washable to be arrested at the suit of an English subject. The judge’s decision rested on two grounds: First, that the Parlement Beige, being neither a ship of war, nor the pleasure yacht of a sovereign, and carrying packets of small articles in addition to the mails, could not claim immunity from arrest on the general principles of international law; the second ground was, that though article 6 of the postal treaty of 1876 between Great Britain and Belgium gives to the mail packets the status of ships of war, and exempts them from arrest or detention, yet as this treaty has never been sanctioned by Parliament, it was so far void that it could not take away the actual rights of a British subject, one of which was that he had a right to arrest a wrong-doing ship for damages done by it to his property. As the Belgian Government refuse to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the court, and did not appear, their case being voluntarily argued by the law officers of the Crown, the matter is not likely to rest as it stands.—(Pall Mall Gazette, March 18.)