No. 304.
Mr. Phelps to Mr. Bayard.

No. 416.]

Sir: Referring to your instructions numbered 458 of November 12, and also to my dispatch numbered 393 of December 3, I have the honor to inclose herewith the copy of a note which I have just received from the Earl of Iddesleigh in reply to mine of December 2 to his lordship, asking that the owners of the David J. Adams be furnished with copies of the original reports stating the charges on which that vessel was seized by the Canadian authorities. A copy of the latter note formed inclosure to my dispatch No. 393 aforesaid.

You will observe that Her Majesty’s Government have not seen fit to interfere in the matter.

I have, etc.,

E. J. Phelps.
[Inclosure in No. 416.]

Lord Iddesleigh to Mr. Phelps.

Sir: Her Majesty’s Government have considered the request contained in your note of the 2d ultimo, to the effect that the owners of the David J. Adams may be furnished with copies of the original reports stating the charges on which that vessel was seized by the Canadian authorities; and I have now the honor to state to you [Page 452] that if the owners of this vessel are legally entitled to be furnished with those reports they can obtain them by the process of the courts; and there seems no ground for the interference of Her Majesty’s Government with the ordinary course of justice.

As regards the means of obtaining information for the purposes of the defense, I would point out that in the report of the Canadian minister of marine and fishery, of which a copy was communicated to you on the 23d July last, it is stated that from a date immediately after the seizure “there was not the slightest difficulty in the United States consul-general, and those interested in the vessel, obtaining the fullest information,” and that “apart from the general knowledge of the offenses which it was claimed the master had committed, and which was furnished at the time of the seizure, the most technical and precise details were readily obtainable at the registry of the court, and from the solicitors of the Crown.”

With respect to the statement in your note that a clause in the Canadian act of May 22, 1868, to the effect that, “In case a dispute arises as to whether any seizure has or has not been legally made, or as to whether the person seizing was or was not authorized to seize under this act, the burden of proving the illegality of the seizure shall be on the owner or claimant,” is in violation of the principles of national justice, as well as of those of the common law, I have to observe that the statute referred to is cap. 61 of 1868, which provides for the issue of licenses to foreign fishing vessels, and for the forfeiture of such vessels fishing without a license; and that the provisions of Article 10, to which you take exception, are commonly found in laws against smuggling, and are based on the rule of law that a man who pleads that he holds a license or other similar document shall be put to the proof of his, plea and required to produce the document.

I beg leave to add that the provisions of that statute, so far as they relate to the issue of licenses, has been in operation since the year 1870.

I have, etc.,