Opinion Number. 1784

Subject

PRIZE LAWIMPERIAL ACTS GOVERNING PRIZE LAW IN AUSTRALIA: CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH STATE AND NORTHERN TERRITORY SUPREME COURTS MAY EXERCISE JURISDICTION AS PRIZE COURTS: ARRANGEMENTS MADE DURING WORLD WAR II BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND AUSTRALIA FOR THE EXERCISE OF CERTAIN JURISDICTION OF PRIZE COURTS

Author
Key Legislation

STATUTE OF WESTMINSTER ADOPTION ACT 1942: PROCLAMATION No. 2617 issued by President Roosevelt on 12 August 1944

Date
Client
The Secretary, Department of External Affairs

With reference to your memorandum of 23rd November, 1945, the following information may be of use to Mr. Hogan.

Prize law in Australia is governed by Acts of the Imperial Parliament, although, since the adoption by the Commonwealth of the Statute of Westminster in 1942, the Commonwealth has power to repeal or amend any of those Acts in its application to Australia.

I enclose three copies of a bound volume prepared in 1939 containing copies of the relevant English legislation (with which Mr. Hogan is probably already familiar).

Under the Imperial Acts, the Supreme Court of each State of the Commonwealth, and the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory of Australia, is empowered to exercise jurisdiction as a Prize Court in relation to any enemy country upon the issue by the Governor of the State (or, in the case of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory, by the Governor-General) of a Proclamation declaring that war has broken out between His Majesty the King and that country. The necessary Proclamations were issued by each State Governor and by the Governor-General soon after the outbreak of war with Germany. The attached statement sets out particulars of these Proclamations so far as ascertainable from the records in this Department.

I also attach a statement setting out particulars regarding vessels seized and subsequently dealt with by Prize Courts.1

Mr. Hogan is probably aware that reciprocal arrangements were made during the present war between the United States of America and the Commonwealth for the exercise of jurisdiction by the Prize Courts of each country in respect of prizes taken for the use of that country in the territorial waters of the other, or brought into those waters. I am not aware of any law made in Australia to give effect to this arrangement, but I may refer to the Proclamation (No. 2617) issued by President Roosevelt on 12th August, 1944.

[Vol. 37, p. 250]

1 Attachment not included in Opinion Book.