Admiralty Jurisdiction and Practice

Page 349


Ship mortgages



10.1 Ships are chattels and questions relating to their ownership are decided according to the principles applicable under the law of personal property, in particular the provisions as to passing of property and conveying of title contained in the Sale of Goods Act 1979, but as a general rule title to a ship will not pass by delivery, nor will it be proven by possession. The classic statement of this proposition is to be found in the judgment of Turner LJ in Hooper v Gumm1 where he said2:

“A ship is not like an ordinary personal chattel; it does not pass by delivery, nor does the possession of it prove the title to it. There is no market overt for ships … In ordinary cases of purchases of property not purchased in market overt the purchasers are bound to inquire into the title of the property purchased by them. They cannot shut their eyes and ears and claim the benefit of want of notice; and if they think proper to buy without inquiring into the title of the person from whom they buy, they must be held to be affected with notice of what would have appeared if the inquiry had been made.”

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