In the discussion which occurred during the detention, and which was continued after the release of the three German ships, the assertions made by the British and German Governments brought out the fact that English practice is often opposed to Continental opinion in questions of international law.
On the fourth of January the German Ambassador in London had declared that his Government, “after carefully examining the matter” of the seizure of the Bundesrath, and considering the judicial aspects of the case, was “of the opinion that proceedings before a Prize Court were not justified." This view of the case, he declared, was based on the consideration that “proceedings before a Prize Court are only justified where the presence of contraband of war is proved, and that, whatever may have been on board the Bundesrath, there could have been no contraband of war, since, according to recognized principles of international law, there cannot be contraband of war in trade between neutral ports.”
[Footnote 22: Sessional Papers, Africa, No. I (1900), C. 33, p. 6; Hatzfelt to Salisbury, Jan. 4, 1900.]
He asserted that this view was taken by the English Government in the case of the Springbok in 1863 as opposed to the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States sitting as a prize court on an appeal from the lower district court of the State of New York. The protest of the British Government against the decision of the United States court as contravening these recognized principles, he said, was put on record in the Manual of Naval Prize Law published by the English Admiralty in 1866, three years after the original protest. The passage cited from the manual read: “A vessel’s destination should be considered neutral, if both the port to which she is bound and every intermediate port at which she is to call in the course of her voyage be neutral,” and “the destination of the vessel is conclusive as to the destination of the goods on board.” In view of this declaration on the part of Great Britain toward neutral commerce Count Hatzfeldt contended that his Government was “fully justified in claiming the release of the Bundesrath without investigation by a Prize Court, and that all the more because, since the ship is a mail-steamer with a fixed itinerary, she could not discharge her cargo at any other port than the neutral port of destination."
[Footnote 23: This case, it will be remembered, was not decided on the ground of the contraband character of the goods in the cargo but because of the presumption that the ultimate intention of the ship was to break the blockade established over the Southern States. This well founded suspicion, based upon the character of the cargo as tending to show that it could be intended only for the forces of the Southern Confederacy, led to the conclusion