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Marine insurance – successive causes – insured peril leading to excluded peril – insurers not liable.

The Facts

A time marine insurance policy contained the usual perils (including “barratry of the master”). The subject-matter of insurance was warranted “free from capture and seizure”.

On the night of 23rd May 1879, the master of the vessel loaded 8 tons of tobacco to be smuggled into Spain.

The ship left Gibraltar with the tobacco on board and was seized and taken to Cadiz where the master and crew were placed under arrest on a charge of smuggling. Proceedings were taken to procure the confiscation of the ship.

Owners were compelled to pay a large sum of money to get back their ship.


All three Courts held that the exclusion prevailed. In the House of Lords, the Respondents were not called upon to argue.

Of the judgments delivered, including those by Brett LJ (later Lord Esher), the Earl of Selborne and Lord Blackburn, the most lucid was that of Field J at first instance.

He held simply that the clauses had to be read together – the natural meaning of the policy was that the exclusion, being the final event, operated to defeat preceding insured perils, no matter how closely connected to the excluded event.


The reasoning was followed in the B Atlantic.

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Charter Party Casebook