107 #106: There was a third Titanic court case, in London in 1913

Posted by
Titanic

TRUE. Many people interested in the Titanic are aware of the US and British Titanic Inquiries.

The United States Senate Inquiry into the loss of the Titanic began on19th April 1912 and concluded on 25th May 1912. 

Over the course of 18 days of inquiry the testimony of 86 witnesses was entered for the record. The inquiry transcript is over 1,000 pages long and can be read in its entirety here: https://www.titanicinquiry.org

The British Wreck Commissioner’s Inquiry on behalf of the British Board of Trade was overseen by High Court judge Lord Mersey, and was held in London from 2 May to 3 July 1912. 

The hearings took place mainly at the London Scottish Drill Hall, at 59 Buckingham Gate, London SW1.

There were a total of 42 days of official investigation and during this time nearly 100 witnesses testified, answering more than 25,000 questions.

What is less well-known is that on the 3rd of October 1912 the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York began hearing a civil court case to establish whether White Star truly had Limited Liability for the loss of life suffered, or if their negligence resulted in the forfeiting of that.

The full transcripts are currently lost but a number of depositions have been found, including fourteen key ones, which can be read here:  https://www.titanicinquiry.org/lol/depositions/depositions.php
The documents were discovered in the mid-1980s and transcribed electronically and put online for the first time, by Titanic researchers Brian Ticehurst and George Behe and the Titanic Inquiry Project.

But there was yet another Limited Liability trial, this one in London in 1913. This was brought by an Irish farmer who had tragically lost his son in the sinking of the Titanic. The farmer eventually won compensation from the White Star Line for the loss of his son, in what became an important test case for consumer rights. The case is Thomas Ryan vs The Oceanic Steam Navigation Company. The transcripts of this enquiry are also lost, but the Précis Law Report was discovered by Titanic researcher Senan Molony and can be read in full, here:

https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/ryan-v-osnc.html

This was a legal test case brought in the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, London, from June 20-26, 1913. It featured fresh testimony from all the surviving Titanic officers, including Charles Lightoller, Harold Lowe, Herbert Pitman and Joseph Boxhall. Others who testified included Titanic lookouts Reginald Lee, Frederick Fleet, George Symons and George Hogg, and Marconi operators Harold Bride and Stanley Adams (Mesaba). Also to give evidence were Joseph Scarrott, AB, a number of Master mariners, and others.

Of particular note is the detailed testimony given by Titanic’s lookouts in this hearing, which explain the conditions of visibility at the time of the collision in great detail.

I hope that one day the full transcripts of both the US and UK Limited Liability Hearings will be discovered.

There is certainly much more first hand evidence out there, which has not yet been discovered, and which will shed yet more light on the incredible and catastrophic sinking of the Titanic.

If you’d like to read the full book of101 Things You Thought You Knew About The Titanic…But Didn’t!, or any of my other books on Titanic, please visit my Author Page on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/tim-maltin/e/B005LNHYEQ/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_1

Leave a Reply