File No. 341.115In841/46
The Consul General at London ( Skinner ) to the Secretary of State
[Received 7.50 p. m.]
Department’s 9th. Procurator general promises to deal with Seaconnet on same terms as Ogeechee. In Ogeechee case by direction prize court procurator general was directed to seek adviser to recommend detention or release of goods. Holman Gregory who was appointed for this purpose has broader vision than procurator general whose conception of duty is to build up prize fund and charge every item of expense to claimants. There is no apparent intention to release Seaconnet consignments with proviso that claimants refrain from demands indemnity for losses. One release already secured for A. J. Tower Company provides for release “on production bills lading subject to such rights if any over consignment as shipowner had at time of seizure and payment of expenses incurred in connection with detention.”
My belief is shippers should forward claims, obtain release best terms possible, seeking indemnity later on completion transaction. Prize court has taken cognizance of order council March 11, but has rendered no decision specifically affirming its validity. Impossible to ascertain number of cases in which procurator has granted release subject to waiver of indemnity, equally impossible to ascertain principles on which procurator acts in establishing this condition. In three cases brought to my attention he withdrew his demand upon submission protest. On August 17 I objected to his undertaking to tie hands of claimants as agreements obtained under duress and stated we would not be bound by them. August 24 he stated that if it was intended that such agreements would be repudiated it must preclude future negotiations where claimants might deem it advantageous to effect compromise. I fully believe that diplomatic protest against releases so formulated as to prevent claimants from seeking damages would be effective. Also believe diplomatic protest against present obligation of claimants to pay warehousing charges and various expenses for benefit of Government when innocent goods involved would be helpful. At present time in Stigstad case president prize court has directed Crown and claimants to consider proper compensation for alleged excessive detention of ship. Moment opportune for strong request for general decision whereunder claims for demurrage can be settled without compelling claimants to go into prize court. Present general policy is to deny any responsibility for losses of any kind directing such claimants to apply to prize court.