Barreda v. Silsbee - 62 U.S. 146 (1858)
U.S. Supreme Court
Barreda v. Silsbee, 62 U.S. 21 How. 146 146 (1858)
Barreda v. Silsbee
62 U.S. (21 How.) 146
Where a vessel was chartered to bring a cargo of guano from the Chineha Islands to the United States at the rate of twenty-five dollars per ton freight, with a
stipulation that the ship should be entitled to any advance in the guano freight made by the charterers, and they subsequently chartered vessels to go from the United States for guano, reserving certain privileges to the charterers, at the rate of thirty dollars per ton freight, it was proper for the circuit court to leave it to the jury to say, from all the evidence in the case, whether or not the real contract in the last charters was to bring home guano at the rate of thirty dollars per ton freight.
Contingent agreements between merchants and ship owners ought to receive a reasonable construction, so as to carry their intentions into effect, and in general those intentions must be gathered from the language employed, the surrounding circumstances, and the subject matter.
The case of Gether v. Capper, 80 Eng.C.L., examined.
The declarations and statements of the agents of the charterers, made at the time of the execution of the subsequent charters above mentioned, were properly admitted in evidence as part of the res gestae and to show that the charterers were acting in bad faith towards the owners of the vessel which was first chartered.
Where the effect of a written agreement, collaterally introduced as evidence, depends not merely on the construction and meaning of the instrument, but upon extrinsic facts and circumstances, the inferences of fact to be drawn from it must be left to the jury.
Moreover, the fact whether or not the charterers had paid thirty dollars per ton freight might have been proved by oral as well as written evidence.
The authorities examined.
Although the contracts between the charterers and the last owners might have been fair as between themselves, yet if their effect was to work an unfairness to the first owners, parol evidence was admissible to show it.
On the 11th of April, 1854, a charter party was executed by B. H. Silsbee, acting owner of the ship Shirley, and F. L. Barreda & Brother, residing in Baltimore, acting as agents for the Peruvian government. The charter party provided that the ship should "proceed to Callao, from Australia, where she is at present bound," and take in a cargo of guano at the Chincha Islands. The freight to be paid was at the rate of twenty-five dollars in full per ton of 20 cwt. net, guano, custom house weight.
At the conclusion of the charter party, there was the following stipulation:
"The ship to have the benefit of any advance on the guano freights made by the charterers in the United States before
she finishes loading at the islands. It is understood the ship is to be laden as deep as prudent, without regard to the clause restricting her to one-third above her register tonnage."
The principal question in the case was upon the construction of this clause, and whether chartering other vessels, under the circumstances mentioned in the opinion of the court, brought the case of the Shirley within its operation.
The opinion of the Court also contains the instructions given by the circuit court to the jury, together with the exception to evidence.
The case was argued by Mr. Wallis and Mr. Nelson for the plaintiffs in error, and by Mr. Brune and Mr. Johnson for the defendants in error.