File No. 341.115G79/4

The Consul General at London (Skinner) to the Secretary of State

No. 473]

Sir: Referring to my No. 396 dated April 13, 1915, and the Department’s cabled instructions of May 5 and May 7 on this matter indemnity signed by American claimants],1 I have the honor to report that after my last interview with the procurator general in regard to the indemnity under consideration, I requested him to supply me with written confirmation of his statement, with special reference to a certain claim submitted by Messrs. W. S. Gray and Company of New York. In asking the procurator general for his views in writing, I inquired whether the indemnity in prize, which claimants of released goods are obliged to sign, covered only possible claims of third parties and would not be construed as affecting in any manner the right of claimants to the payment of compensation from the British Government itself for any losses which they might feel they had incurred. I also asked: “Does the determination of the Government not to regard the indemnity as a waiver to the prosecution of such claims as I have described grow out of a policy adopted by your administration, or do you hold that the text of the indemnity itself, regardless of your own action, admits the presentation of such claims?” To my inquiries on this subject, the procurator general has very kindly replied in the following terms:

Treasury, Whitehall, S. W., 18 May 1915.

S. S. “Belgia,” W. S. Gray and Company

Sir: In reply to your letter of the 17th instant I have the honour to inform you that the first paragraph thereof correctly states the understanding and intention of this Department that the indemnity in prize, which the claimants for release execute, covers only possible claims of third parties. At the same time there may, of course, have been special cases in which as part of the terms of the understanding arrived at, apart from the actual indemnity, other claims by the party interested may have been barred.

As the above is the intention with which the indemnity has been executed it seems hardly material to consider the question put in the last paragraph of [Page 434] your letter, which is one depending upon the legal construction of the words of the indemnity as to which there might be some doubt.

I am [etc.]

A. H. Dennis

I have [etc.]

Robert P. Skinner
  1. Ante, pp. 375, 380, and 383.