The Federal Reporter with Key-Number Annotations, Volume 272: Cases Argued and Determined in the Circuit Courts of Appeals and District Courts of the United States and the Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia, June-August, 1921. Page: 60
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272 FEDERAL REPORTER
sons which will appear later, it is not material whether the contract of
sale was void under British law or not.
The court below declined to charge the jury, as requested by the
defendant, that "if they believed the evidence to the effect that the
contract under British law was illegal and void, that that would con-
stitute a good defense to this action." This refusal was excepted to
at the time, and has been assigned for error. It is also assigned for
error that the court instructed the jury that the existence of British
law was no defense to the action, and in directing them to bring in a
verdict for the plaintiff for the full amount claimed.
 The law has long been firmly established that the lex loci rei
sitae determines the validity of a contract for the sale of real property.
It has been many times said that personal property has no locality, but
follows the person of the owner, "mobilia sequuntur personam," and
that the validity of its transfer must be determined according to the
laws of the owner's domicil. The proposition, however, has also
been denied. In Pullman's Palace Car Co. v. Pennsylvania, 141 U. S.
18, 22, 11 Sup. Ct. 876, 878 (35 L. Ed. 613), it was said:
"The old rule, expressed in the maxim 'moqbilia sequuntur personam,' by
which personal property was regarded as subject to the law of the owner's
domicile, grew up in the Middle Ages, when movable property consisted chief-
ly of gold and jewels, which could be easily carried by the owner from place
to place, or secreted in spots known only to himself. In modern times, since
the great increase in amount and variety of personal property, not immediate-
ly connected with the person of the owner, that rule has yielded more and
more to the lex situs, the law of the place where the property is kept and used."
And in Bulkley v. Honold, 19 How. 390, 15 L. Ed. 663, the court
held that the sale of a ship, which was effected at New Orleans, the
vendor having his domicile in New York, was governed by the laws
of Louisiana, where the contract was made and performed, and not
by the laws of New York. In that case both parties apparently had
their domicile in the United States. In the case now before us the
vendor and the vendee had a British domicile. That fact alone is not
of controlling importance, so far as the question now before this court
 As between the parties, the sale and delivery of a vessel passes
the title at common law. The question of registration is another and
distinct matter. The registration of a vessel is not compulsory, but a
privilege and advantage, of which the purchasers may or may not
avail themselves as they choose. In the argument in this court in the
instant case, the question of whether the validity of the contract for
the sale of the ship depended upon the lex loci contractus, the lex loci
celebrationis, or whether it depended upon the law of the domicile,
was not mooted.
The complaint alleges that defendant agreed with plaintiff that, if
plaintiff should succeed in finding a purchaser for the steamship Es-
kasoni at the price of $475,000, the defendant would pay to plaintiff
the sum of 21/2 per cent. upon such purchase price for its services.
Then the complaint goes on to allege that the plaintiff thereafter pro-
cured Philip Templeman and George A. Moulton as purchasers of
the vessel, and that they entered into a contract of purchase with de-
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The Federal Reporter with Key-Number Annotations, Volume 272: Cases Argued and Determined in the Circuit Courts of Appeals and District Courts of the United States and the Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia, June-August, 1921., legislative document, 1921; Saint Paul, Minnesota. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc38843/m1/82/: accessed May 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.