The Longford

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
Judgment Date06 February 1889
Date06 February 1889
CourtCourt of Appeal

Collision - Action in rem - Notice of Action - City of Dublin Steam Packet Company - 6 & 7 Wm. 4, ch. c. s. 8.

By 6 & 7 Wm. 4, ch. c. s. 8, no action shall be brought in which the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company shall be liable for any damage to any ship against such company, unless one month's notice in writing shall have been given to the company:—

Held, that the word “action” in s. 8 did not apply to an action in rem.


The plaintiffs were the owners of the steamship Dublin, and they sued the steamship Longford in an action in rem for the loss of the Dublin through a collision with the Longford. The owners of the Longford were the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company, and they appeared as defendants in the action. By paragraphs 1 to 6 inclusive of the statement of defence they pleaded that by statute (6 & 7 Wm. 4, ch. c. (local and personal), s. 8F1), they were entitled to one month's notice of action in writing, and that such notice not having been given to the company by the plaintiffs the latter could not proceed with the action.

The plaintiffs in their reply denied that the section in question had any reference to an action in rem.

By order of the registrar it was ordered that this question of law should be tried before the hearing on the facts.

Jan. 29. The question of law was argued.

Sir W. Phillimore, and Carson, for the defendants. The defendants are entitled to the notice of action mentioned in 6 & 7 Wm. 4, ch. c. s. 8, which applies to any action in which the company shall be liable for damage to a ship. Actions in rem are not expressly exempted from the operation of the section, which must therefore be taken to apply to them. Though the action was in form against the vessel, the owners are responsible for the damage, and this is substantially an action against the company.

[They referred to The Parlement BelgeF2 and The Druid.F3]

The Court of Admiralty in Ireland in The MullingarF4 decided the present point contrary to the defendants' contention. That case cannot be supported on principle, and further, is not binding on this Court.

Barnes, Q.C., and Hurst, for the plaintiffs, were not heard.

BUTT, J. This is an action in rem, arising out of a collision which occurred on the high seas between the steamers Dublin and Longford.

The defendants have pleaded that this action cannot be maintained unless the plaintiffs gave one calendar month's notice of action, and it is not denied by the plaintiff's that such notice has not been given. The question is, whether this is an action against the company within the meaning of the section which has been referred to in the pleadings and arguments. It is not in name an action against the company, neither in my opinion is it in...

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23 cases
  • R v Ireland; R v Burstow
    • United Kingdom
    • House of Lords
    • 24 July 1997
    ...where the correct approach is to construe the legislation "as if one were interpreting it the day after it was passed:" The Longford (1889) 14 P.D. 34. Thus in The Longford the word "action" in a statute was held not to be apt to cover an Admiralty action in rem since when it was passed the......
  • The Financial Conduct Authority v Carillion Plc ((in Liquidation))
    • United Kingdom
    • Chancery Division
    • 27 October 2021
    ...Court of Admiralty, which was separate from the High Court until they were brought together by the Judicature Acts – see The Longford (1889) 14 PD 34, per Bowen LJ at p.38. Following the absorption of the Court of Admiralty into the High Court in 1875, the language of “ Suit” became otiose ......
  • Revenue and Customs Commissioners v News Corporation UK & Ireland Ltd
    • United Kingdom
    • Supreme Court
    • 22 February 2023
    ...the provision is tied to an historic or frozen interpretation. A possible example (referred to by Lord Steyn in R v Ireland at p 158) is The Longford (1889) 14 PD 34 where the word “action” in a statute was held not to be apt to cover an Admiralty action in rem: at the time the statute was ......
  • R (on the application of ZYN) v Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council
    • United Kingdom
    • Queen's Bench Division (Administrative Court)
    • 12 June 2014
    ...solely by reference to the circumstances which then existed and not to anything that happens afterwards. An example of this approach is The Longford (1889) 14 PD 34, a case where the court had to construe an Act of Parliament which provided that "no action in any of His Majesty's courts of ......
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2 books & journal articles
  • The Use of Language in Judgments
    • United Kingdom
    • Wildy Simmonds & Hill How Judges Decide Cases: Reading, Writing and Analysing Judgments. 2nd Edition Contents
    • 29 August 2018
    ...the view often prevailed that a statute must be construed as if one were interpreting it on the day after it was passed: The Longford (1889) 14 PD 34, 36. This doctrine was dignified by the Latin expression contemporanea expositio est optima et fortissima in lege . But even in older cases a......
  • Table of Cases
    • United Kingdom
    • Wildy Simmonds & Hill How Judges Decide Cases: Reading, Writing and Analysing Judgments. 2nd Edition Contents
    • 29 August 2018
    ...158, [1957] 1 All ER 125, HL 126 London Jewellers Ltd v Attenborough [1934] 2 KB 206, 103 LJKB 429, 39 Com Cas 290, CA 182 Longford, The (1889) 14 PD 34, 58 LJP 33, 37 WR 372, CA 129 Lowsley v Forbes (t/a LE Design Services) [1999] 1 AC 329, [1998] 3 WLR 501, [1998] 3 All ER 897, HL 137 Llo......

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