Jun 21 2008

Immigration (Carriers’ Liability) Act 1614: on this day

It is twenty years since the United Kingdom introduced the principle of carriers’ liability for immigration, by which transport operators are penalised if they fail to operate an entirely effective system for policing immigration: see this article for a concise explanation of the legislation in its context. This principle has, however, a far more ancient ancestor in Scots law than is generally known.

On 21st June 1614 the Privy Council passed the following Act:

Forsamekle as it is undirstand to the Lordis of Secreit Counsell that thair is divers personis, adversaris to the trew religioun presentlie profest within this kingdome, who resoirtis and repairis frome all pairtis to the town of Campweere in Zeland, and thair awaitis the commoditie and occasioun to be transportit in this kingdome, and at thair arryvaill and during the tyme of thair aboade heir thay ar bussye and imployis thair wittis and ingyne to divert simple and ignorant people frome the treuthe and veritie of the evangell, and to imbrace the foolishe errouris and superstitionis quhilkis be the lawis of this kingdome ar abolissit and supprest; and whairas the resoirt of suche kynd of people into this kingdome can not be without grite hasaird and perrell to this estate: thairfoir the Lordis of Secreit Counsell ordanis letteris to be direct to command, charge, and inhibite the maisteris, awnaris, skipparis, and marinaris of quhatsomevir shippis and veshellis in this kingdome, be oppin proclamatioun at all placeis neidfull, that nane of thame presome nor tak upoun hand, at ony tyme after the publicatioun heirof, to ressave, in thair barkis or shippis at the Campweere and bring frome thense into this kingdome ony passingeris of quhatsomevir natioun, quhilk first thay obtene frome the minister of the Scottis kirk at Campweere a testimoniall under his hand, beareing that the persone or personis who desyris to be transportit into this kingdome doeth hant the Scottis kirk at Campweere, and ar knowne to be professouris of the trew religioun presentlie profest and be law establissit within this kingdome, under the pane of warding of the contravenaris of this present ordinance during the saidis Lordis will and pleasour, and forder to be fyned in thair goodis at the saidis Lordis pleasour: certifeeing thame that failyees or dois in the contrair that not onlie sall thay be wardit, bot lykewayes thay salbe fyned in suche pecuniall sowmes as the saidis Lordis sall impose upon thame.

Veere, historically Campvere, is a small town in Walcheren. From 1541 to the late eighteenth century it was the principal Scots trading centre in the Netherlands and a frequent subject of Scots legislation. Commissioners from its church sat in the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland until the 1790s. It was held in 1749, however, that the judgments of its locally-based Scots court could not be judicially reviewed by the Court of Session: Coutts & Co. v. Ramsay, (1749) M. 7341. With, now, the advantage of the analysis in Tehrani v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2006] UKHL 47 of the extra-territorial jurisdiction of the Court of Session, that may be seen as doubtful. A modern challenge to the workings of UK immigration control anywhere in the world, such as European Roma Rights Centre v Immigration Officer at Prague Airport, [2004] UKHL 55, could be brought in the Court of Session as well as in the English courts.


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