Page 103 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
P. 103
part of my duty, to press that except in so far as it is necessary to bring clearly before the Court various statements of witnesses which to my mind ought to have a serious bearing on the judgment which the Court should form with regard to the navigation. The Commissioner: Which is the question which invites me to express an opinion upon negligence? The Attorney-General: There is no question which asks you whether there was negligence or not, but there is Question 14, which asks you whether the speed was excessive. The Commissioner: Yes, that appears to me to be quite a different thing. The Attorney-General: It may be, of course. That question can be answered without saying anything further with regard to negligence; I can only say that is a matter for your Lordship to determine. When you come to answer that question, I can conceive that the Court might come to the conclusion that it preferred not to deal with any argument which may have been addressed based upon this proposition that there was negligent navigation, and that the Court might be satisfied in saying that the speed was excessive. Of course, that is a matter which your Lordship must determine. The Commissioner: I do not consider that I am bound by the form of the questions. The Attorney-General: No. The Commissioner: But at the same time I do not want to enter into an Enquiry which is not necessary, and perhaps is one which I ought not to enter upon. The Attorney-General: Of course you have to bear in mind also Question 24: “What was the cause of the loss of the ‘Titanic,’ and of the loss of life which thereby ensued or occurred?” The Commissioner: Assuming you are right, there is no difficulty, in my opinion, in answering that question. Assuming you are right that the speed was excessive - the cause was the excessive speed - that was the effective cause. The Attorney-General: I quite understand. The Commissioner: Whether the people who permitted that cause to operate were negligent or not appears to me to be quite a different question from the cause of the accident. It may be refining, but it occurs to me that if the speed was excessive, so excessive that an alteration would have avoided the accident, then the cause of the accident was the excessive speed. The Attorney-General: Yes, but that still leaves open the question whether the excessive speed was, in your Lordship’s view, negligent navigation. The Commissioner: What, does it matter? If it was excessive it was wrong navigation, but whether it was negligent is another matter. I draw a distinction between a thing which is wrong and a thing which is negligent. Negligence may cover both, but a thing which is wrong does not necessarily mean a thing that is negligent. The Attorney-General: Of course, there may be two courses open, and the one selected may turn out to be the worse; the wrong course of those two may be selected. Nevertheless, I quite appreciate that that may have been an error of judgment which is not negligence, because either of the two courses might have been a course which any prudent commander might have taken, and the fact that it turned out badly naturally would not make your Lordship come to the conclusion that there was negligence. I quite appreciate that. But there is the further point, which certainly is involved, covered by the questions, although I quite appreciate that you might not think fit to answer it or may not think it is necessary to answer it, and that is whether the speed should have been reduced; whether the person responsible - The Commissioner: We are quarrelling about words, I think. If I think the speed was excessive it follows that I think it should have been reduced. The Attorney-General: Yes. The Commissioner: But it does not follow that because it was not reduced the man who failed to reduce it was negligent.
   98   99   100   101   102   103   104   105   106   107   108