The Societe
13 U.S. 209 (1815)

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U.S. Supreme Court

The Societe, 13 U.S. 9 Cranch 209 209 (1815)

The Societe

13 U.S. (9 Cranch) 209

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT

FOR THE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA

Syllabus

If a neutral vessel be captured on her outward voyage from England to Amelia Island carrying a hostile cargo, which is condemned, and if by the charter party the outward cargo is to be carried free of freight but the homeward cargo is to pay at a certain rate, to be ascertained by the nature of the cargo, yet the court will decree freight pro rata itineris of the outward cargo, to be assessed upon the principles of a quantum meruit.

This Court will not allow a new claim to be interposed here, but will remand the cause, to the circuit court, where it may be presented.

Appeal from the sentence of the Circuit Court for the District of Georgia affirming the decree of the district court which allowed freight pro rata itineris to the Swedish ship Societe, captured on her outward voyage

Page 13 U. S. 210

from England to Amelia Island with a British cargo on board, which was condemned as prize of war.

By the charter party, the outward cargo to Amelia Island was to be carried freight free, and the homeward cargo was to pay at the rate of three pence halfpenny a pound for cotton, and in the same proportion for other goods.

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court as follows:

William Little a naturalized citizen of the United States, entered into a charter party with Magnus Martinson, master of the Swedish ship called the Societe at London on 10 November, 1813, whereby the said Martinson let, and the said Little took the said ship to freight for the voyage and on the terms mentioned in the charter party.

It was agreed, among other things, that the vessel should take on board a cargo, prepared for her in the Thames and deliver it at Amelia Island, freight free. At Amelia Island she was to take on board such return cargo as might be tendered to her. If she could not be loaded there, she was to proceed to such port in the

Page 13 U. S. 211

United State as the agent of Little should direct, and there receive her cargo. There were other provisional stipulations, and it was agreed that the freight on the return cargo should be a sum specified in the charter party, which exceeded what would have been paid as freight on the return cargo alone had it been totally unconnected with the outward voyage.

On her voyage to Amelia Island, the Societe was captured by an armed vessel of the United States and brought into the District of Georgia, where the cargo was libeled and condemned as enemy property.

A claim for freight was interposed by the master of the Societe, and the district judge appointed commissioners to ascertain the value of the freight on the voyage to Amelia Island, and decreed freight conformably to their report.

The claimant of the cargo and the master of the ship both appealed to the circuit court, where the sentence of the district judge was in all things affirmed. From that sentence an appeal was prayed to this Court.

The cases already decided in this Court on the questions of domicile and trading with the enemy having completely settled this case, so far as respected the claim to the cargo, that part of the sentence is affirmed without opposition.

On the part of the master, it is contended that his right to freight ought to be measured by his charter party, not by any estimated value of the freight on the voyage to Amelia Island.

Had the charter party contained any stipulation for freight to Amelia Island, that stipulation would unquestionably have governed the Court. But the outward cargo was to be delivered freight free. So far, then, as the case is controlled by the express stipulations of the charter party, the vessel is entitled to the whole freight on a return cargo never taken on board, or to nothing.

The Court knows of no case of capture where the

Page 13 U. S. 212

neutral vessel has been allowed freight for a cargo not taken with her. There is no lien on one cargo for freight which may accrue on another. The Court can perceive no principle on which a cargo to be delivered freight free can be burdened with the freight agreed to be paid on a cargo to be afterwards taken on board. In this case, too, no sum in gross is to be paid for freight, but a sum depending on the quantity and quality of the return cargo. As between the captor and neutral owner, the Court cannot consider this as one entire voyage, but as distinct outward and inward voyages.

If the claim to freight on the return voyage, not commenced at the time of capture, cannot be sustained, the Court perceives no other rule which could have been adopted than that which the district court did adopt. Freight has been allowed on the whole voyage to Amelia Island as so a quantum meruit.

The captors not having appealed, no question can arise on the propriety of having allowed the ship any freight whatever. The Court, however, will say that it is satisfied with the allowance which is made, and which is certainly an equitable one.

The sentence is

Affirmed with costs.

The officers of the Rattlesnake and Enterprise, armed vessels of the United States, offered a petition to this Court to be permitted to claim for themselves and their crew a share of the prize in the case of the Societe, alleging that they are entitled equally with the officers and crew of the gunboat by whom the said cargo was libeled, which petition was rejected, and the claim was not received, it being the opinion of this Court that the claim of the petitioners must be made in the circuit court, to which the cause is remanded.

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