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Godard V. Gray Notes

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GODARD V. GRAY FACTS By these it appears that the plaintiffs, who are Frenchmen, sued the defendants, who are Englishmen, on a charterparty made at Sunderland, which charterparty contained the following clause, "Penalty for non-performance of this agreement, estimated amount of freight." The French court below, treating this clause as fixing the amount of liquidated damages, gave judgment against the defendants for the amount of freight on two voyages. On appeal, the superior court reduced the amount to the estimated freight of one voyage. All parties in France seem to have taken it for granted that the words in the charterparty were to be understood in their natural sense; but the English law is accurately expressed in Abbott on Shipping, part 3, c. 1, s. 6, 5th ed., p. 170, and had that passage been brought to the notice of the French tribunal, it would have known that in an English charterparty, as is there stated, "Such a clause is not the absolute limit of damages on either side; the party may, if he thinks fit, ground his action upon the other clauses or covenants, and may, in such action, recover damages beyond the amount of the penalty, if in justice they shall be found to exceed it. On the other hand, if the party sue on such a penal clause, he cannot, in effect, recover more than the damage actually sustained." But it was not brought to the notice of the French tribunal that according to the interpretation put by the English law on such a contract, a penal clause of this sort was in fact idle and inoperative. We can see on the face of the proceedings that the foreign tribunal has made a mistake on the construction of an English contract, which is a question of English law; and that, in consequence of that mistake, judgment has been given for an amount probably greater than, or, at all events, different from that for which it would have been given if the tribunal had been correctly informed what construction the English contract bore according to English law. HOLDING The question raised by the plea is, whether this is a bar to the action brought in England to enforce that judgment, and we are all of opinion that it is not, and that the plaintiff is entitled to judgment. Principle behind recognition of foreign judgments But in England and in those states which are governed by the common law, such judgments are enforced, not by virtue of any

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