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Watts, Watts & Co., Ltd. v. Unione Austriaca, 248 U.S. 9 (1918)

Watts, Watts & Company, Limited v.

Unione Austriaca di Navigazione

No. 25

Argued April 17, 1918

Decided November 4, 1918

248 U.S. 9


Upon review of an admiralty case, the court has jurisdiction to make such disposition of it as justice may require at the time of decision, and therein must consider changes in fact and in law which have supervened since the decree below was entered. P. 248 U. S. 21.

In a libel in personam, brought by a British against an Austro-Hungarian corporation, while their countries were at war and the United States was a neutral, to recover for coal furnished before the war by the libelant to the respondent in Algiers, jurisdiction was obtained by attachment of a ship (for which a bond was substituted), but, after answer and submission of the cause upon agreed facts and proof of foreign law, the district court declined to proceed because of prohibitions placed by the belligerent countries on payment of debts to each other's subjects, and dismissed the libel without prejudice. This country having entered the war after the case came to this Court,


(1) That the libelant, as a co-belligerent, had a right to maintain the suit against the respondent, an alien enemy, and that jurisdiction should not be declined as an act of discretion. P. 248 U. S. 21.

(2) That respondent, though an alien enemy, was entitled to defend, and that, in view of the nonintercourse laws and the actual impossibility of free intercourse between residents of this country and of Austria-Hungary, further prosecution should be suspended until, through restoration of peace or otherwise, adequate presentation of respondent's defense should become possible. P. 248 U. S. 22.

229 F. 136 reversed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 248 U. S. 19

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