International Arbitration, from Athens to Locarno

By Jackson H. Ralston | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
PLEADINGS, PROCEDURE, AND EVIDENCE

50. Preliminary observations. -- It will be well to distinguish between certain varieties of international commissions and tribunals. We may first consider those in which the governments are distinctly the parties most concerned. In a number of these cases there is difficulty in determining which party, if either, is to be considered plaintiff and which defendant, the governments being joint claimants to the subject-matter in dispute and each seeking the recovery of something which may be regarded as of political interest. Illustrations of what we have in mind are afforded by the Alaska Boundary convention, the Northeastern Boundary dispute and a number of other cases largely relating to territorial limits. As touching the difficulty of settling which may be regarded as plaintiff and which defendant, we refer to the Venezuelan Preferential case at The Hague, wherein the question was evaded by allowing the several parties in interest to present and discuss their respective propositions in alphabetical order. In disputes of the general character of those we are now discussing, it is ordinarily provided in the compromis that the "case," as it is termed (the meaning of which we shall discuss later) shall be served by either party upon the other within the same limit of time, with a similar provision as to the countercase and any subsequent pleadings.

There are, of course, certain other classes of commissions as to which governments ought to be regarded as the prime and most important factors although private interests are at the bottom of the dispute. Illustrations of what we have in mind are afforded by the Geneva Tribunal determining the Alabama case and the Atlantic Fisheries case. In these and in like instances, so great a number of its nationals are affected by one common principle that the government is justified in regarding the controversy as peculiarly its own.

Again there may be cases like those of the Pious Fund of the Californias and the Orinoco Shipping Company, decided at The Hague, in which the amount or principle involved may be regarded by the government as important, and therefore the proceedings are entirely between the governments; and the individual claimant receives only incidental attention, notwithstanding the private origin of the case, retaining his interest in the results. In all of the foregoing instances, the cases are peculiarly governmental.

-71-

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