Halig Ltd v Polish State

JurisdictionRusia
CourtObsolete Court (Prussia)
Docket Number104
Prussian Tribunal for Conflicts of Jurisdiction (Kompetenzkonflikts-Gerichtshof).
Case No. 104
Halig Limited
and
Polish State.

Jurisdiction over Foreign States — Exemption front Jurisdiction — Foreign State as Tenant — Exemption from Jurisdiction in respect of Immovable Property — Jurisdiction in regard to Exercise of Act of Sovereignty.

The Facts.—The plaintiffs let certain offices to a firm in Stettin which sublet part of them to the Polish State for the accommodation of its vice-consul at Stettin. The plaintiffs reserved a certain space on the right and left of the main entrance to the building for any signs or notices which the tenants might wish to put up. In the contract with the principal tenant they stipulated that signs and notices should not be put up in places other than those reserved for that purpose by the landlords. Subsequently the Polish vice-consul had a round plaque with the insignia of the Polish State put up above the entrance; he refused to comply with the request of the plaintiffs to remove the plaque and to repair the damage done to the wall.

The plaintiffs thereupon brought an action for trespass and injury to their property. The writ was not served upon the Polish State, as the Ministry for Foreign Affairs refused to transmit it. The writ was then served upon the Polish vice-consul in Stettin. However, before oral proceedings had taken place the Prussian Prime Minister lodged with the Court at Stettin a declaration questioning the jurisdiction of the Court on the ground that the action was contrary to a recognised principle of international law.

It was pointed out in the declaration that the Polish State could not be made defendant without its consent; that it was not admissible to make the property rights of a foreign State the object of an action or execution; that the object of the present action was the exercise of an act of sovereignty by the Polish State; and that the conclusion of the contract of lease could not be regarded as implying submission to the jurisdiction of German courts. The matter then came before the Tribunal in Matters of Conflicts of Jurisdiction.

Held: That German courts had no jurisdiction in the matter. It is a well-established principle of international law that a State is not, as a rule, subject to the...

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