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311. Rule in United States courts.—While courts in the United States insist upon the right to jurisdiction over foreign merchant vessels when in ports of the United States, except in so far as affected by treaty, they usually decline to exercise it in cases of disputes between masters and seamen of foreign vessels when the nation to which the vessel belongs has provided for the settlement of such disputes before its own consuls, on the ground that such noninterference is necessary to the proper police regulation of the merchant marine of nations. The exceptions to the rule are few, as when a master has been guilty of extreme cruelty, or when there is a manifest disregard of the contract which would operate unjustly to the seaman if he were compelled to await a return to his own country before he could resort to the courts.—120 U. S., 1.
312. Liberty of the crew to complain.--The master of a vessel is required by law to give the crew full liberty to lay their complaints before the consular officer, and not to restrain them from coming ashore, unless some sufficient and valid objection exist thereto; in which case, if any mariner desire to see the consular officer, it shall be the duty of the master to acquaint the latter forthwith, stating the reason why the mariner is not permitted to land, and that he is desired to come on board. The consular officer, on receiving such information, will repair on board without delay, and inquire into the causes of the complaint, and will proceed therein as the law directs.R. S., sec. 4567.
313. Right of complaint protected by courts.—The right of the seaman to lay his complaint before the consular officer in a foreign port is one of great importance to him, and is carefully protected by the courts. When a seaman files a libel in a court of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, alleging that the master had maltreated him while in the service of the ship, and his allegations are proved, the court decrees damages in accordance with the facts.
And if it appear that the master denied the seaman liberty to lay his complaints before the consular officer in a foreign port, such denial is an aggravation of his offense and enhances the amount of the decree. And in particular instances, by act of Congress, a penalty is imposed upon a master who refuses his erew the right to lay their complaints before the consul. R.S., sec. 4567; 1 Sprague, 62; Id. 163; 1 Curtis, 69.
314. Consul to see that right is allowed.—The consular officer is regarded as the adviser and counsel of the seaman, and it is enjoined upon him to see that the latter is unrestricted in the privilege to submit his complaint. If there is reason to believe that a seaman is restrained in any way from appearing at the consulate, in order to prevent his application to the consular officer, the latter will not wait for the complaint, but will at once proceed on board or take the proper steps to secure his appearance before him. The investigation of these cases is often tedious, the evidence is apt to be conflicting, and the consular officer will require the use of all his good judgment, forbearance, discretion, and good temper.
315. Complaint of unseaworthiness.—Provision has been made by statute for the examination of complaints in respect to the unseaworthy condition of the vessel and insufficient equipment or supplies, and for the proceedings of consular officers in such cases.
It is the duty of the latter, when such complaints are submitted to him, to appoint inspectors to examine into the causes of complaint, who have authority to inspect the vessel and to take the necessary proofs. The consular officer may approve the whole or any part of the inspectors' report; and if it is found that the vessel was sent to sea unsuitably provided, by neglect or design, he may discharge the crew with the arrears of wages and one month's extra wages. (Paragraphs 207, 243.) If, however, the deficiencies were the result of mistake or accident, and are remedied within a reasonable time, the crew must remain; if not so remedied, the consular officer may discharge the crew, on their request, with the arrears of wages, but without any extra wages. (Paragraph 208.) Provision has also been made for the payment of the expenses of these proceedings by the master or those of the crew who make the complaint, and for a penalty on the master for refusal. In cases of this kind the consular officer will be careful to consult the full text of the statute.-R. S., secs. 4559–4563.
316. Complaint as to provisions or water. When three or more of the crew of any merchant ship of the United States, engaged according to the provisions of the statute, make complaint to a consular officer of the United States that the provisions or water for the use of the crew are at any time of bad quality, unfit for use, or deficient in quantity (see Form No. 27), such officer shall thereupon examine the said provisions or water or cause them to be examined, and, if they are found to be of bad quality and unfit for use, or deficient in quantity, he shall signify the same in writing to the master of the ship (Form No. 28). If the master shall not thereupon provide other provisions or water when the same can be had, or does not procure the requisite quantity, or uses any which have been thus signified to be bad, he shall, in every case, incur a penalty not exceeding $100. In each case the consular officer will enter the result of the examination in the log book of the vessel (Form No. 29) and send a report thereof to the district judge of the port to which the vessel is bound (Form No. 30). If he certifies in such statement that there was no reasonable ground for the complaint, each party complaining shall be liable to forfeit to the master or owner one week's wages out of his wages.-R. S., secs. 4565, 4566.
317. When provisions are reduced.—If, during a voyage, the allowance of any of the provisions which any seaman has, by his agreement, stipulated for, is reduced, except in accordance with any regulations for reduction by way of punishnent, contained in the agreement, and also for any time luring which such seaman willfully and without sufficient ause refuses or neglects to perform his duty, or is lawfully inder confinement for misconduct, either on board or on hore; or if it is shown that any of such provisions are, or have been during the voyage, bad in quality and unfit for ise, the seaman shall receive by way of compensation for such reduction or bad quality, according to the time of its continuance, the following sums, to be paid to him in addition to and to be recoverable as wages: First, if his allowince is reduced by any quantity not exceeding one-third of the quantity specified in the agreement, a sum not exceeding 50 cents a day; second, if his allowance is reduced by more than one-third of such quantity, a sum not exceeding $1 a day; third, in respect of bad quality as aforesaid, a sum not exceeding $1 a day. But if it is proved that any provisions, the allowance of which has been reduced, could not be procured or supplied in sufficient quantities, or were unavoidably injured or lost, and that proper and equivalent substitutes were supplied in lieu thereof in a reasonable time, the court shall take such circumstances into consideration, and shall modify or refuse compensation, as the justice of the case may require.-R. S., sec. 4568.
318. Forms of proceeding.—The form of proceeding in the adjustment of the differences between masters and seamen should be as simple and summary as the nature of the case and justice to the parties will allow. The complaint upon which any proceeding is founded should be verified by the oath of the person making the complaint. Due notice of the nature of the complaint and of the time of the hearing should be given to the adverse party and all other persons in
319. The hearing.-On the day of the hearing, the defendant should be required to answer, in writing, under oath, or be adjudged in default. At the hearing each party should have an opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses produced by the other party, and to testify himself, on oath, if he wishes. The consular officer will render such summary judgment as the case may require, and may order that each party shall pay his own costs, or that one party shall pay all the costs, in his discretion. The costs shall be at the rates named in the tariff of fees, for any services coming within the tariff, and the costs and expenses of the process; but no hearing is to be extended beyond one day, unless absolutely necessary.
320. Application to authorities. In countries with which the United States have treaty stipulations providing for assistance from the local authorities, consular officers are instructed that it is undesirable to invoke such interposition unless it is necessary to do so. In cases of arrest and imprisonment they will see, if possible, that both the place of confinement and the treatment of the prisoners are such as would be regarded in the United States as proper and humane. (General forms for requests for arrest, detention, and release of seamen are given in Forms Nos. 31, 32, and 34.) If a request for assistance is refused, the consular officer should claim all the rights conferred upon him by treaty or convention, and communicate at once with the diplomatic representative in the country, if there be one, and with the Department of State. When such requests are made in accordance with long-established usage, he should, when they are refused, make suitable representations to the proper local authority, and likewise advise the legation and the Department. (Paragraph 299.)
WRECKED AND STRANDED VESSELS, AND SURVEYS.
321. Consuls to take measures to save wrecks.—Consular officers, in cases where vessels of the United States are stranded on