The Position of Foreign States before National Courts: Chiefly in Continental Europe

By Eleanor Wyllys Allen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
THE DE BOOIJ CASE

THE case which was to leave its mark indelibly upon Dutch jurisprudence, and which acquired fame far beyond the boundaries of Holland as it dragged through various courts during a period of eight years, was that of de Booij v. the German Reich.1 The facts were as follows: de Booij, a Dutch subject, then resident in Antwerp, owned a barge, the Booij II, which was sent to Malines laden with coal for an electric power company. The barge was at the company's plant waiting to discharge its cargo on or about October 4, 1914, when the bombardment of Malines began. It was seized by German troops and used to bridge the Malines-Louvain canal. Subsequently, it was sunk, so that nothing remained but a worthless hulk which was to be dynamited. The plaintiff brought suit for damages against the German Reich, alleging that his loss was due to illegal acts for which the defendant was responsible. He submitted that he had fulfilled all the formalities prescribed in civil processes,2 and had since made repeated attempts to obtain satisfaction, but had always been put off with fair words. Germany made no appearance, and the court gave judgment for the plaintiff in accordance with the rule of Dutch law,3 which prescribes that judgment shall be entered for the plaintiff (unless his claim appears upon its face unjust or unfounded) when the defendant defaults. Germany was condemned to pay de Booij 24,600 francs damages, plus interest and costs. On October 21, 1916, notice of this decree was served upon the German Reich by a writ delivered into the hands of the representative of the Public Prosecutor of the

Judgment in Default

Notice of Execution

Rotterdam Decision, Sept. 25, 1916

____________________
1
De Booij v. her Duitsche Rijk, Arrondissements-rechtbank, Rotterdam, September 25, 1916, Weekblad van het Recht, [ 1916] 10022, 3:3.
2
Cf. Wetboek van Burgerlijke Regtsvordering, Article 4, § 8.
3
Wetboek van Burgerlijke Regtsvordering, Article 76.

-110-

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