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

By Eleanor Wyllys Allen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
ENTITIES WITH SPECIAL STATUS

AN interesting group of cases is that involving acts of states which for one reason or another might not be regarded in Belgium as entitled to enjoy all the prerogatives of sovereignty, whether from the fact that Belgians might claim extraterritoriality within their borders, that they had peculiar bonds with the Belgian state, or that they were only members of a federated state. Under the first head is Turkey. On November 11, 1876,1 the Civil Tribunal at Antwerp was called upon to decide a case over which the president of that tribunal, sitting en référé, had assumed jurisdiction by ordering an attachment of property of the Ottoman Government. This action was brought for the purpose of vacating the attachment. The defendant claimed damages for the nonexecution of a contract that the Ottoman Government had entered into with him for certain supplies and labor. It had been stipulated that in case of any question regarding either the interpretation or the execution of the agreement the difficulty should be submitted to a board of arbitrators, whose method of selection was specified. Subsequently, however, both parties agreed to renounce the provisions for arbitration, "and to proceed before the ordinary jurisdiction." The court held that the two parties were thereafter subject to international law, and that the defendant could not rely upon the arbitration agreement to show that the Ottoman Government was willing to submit to a jurisdiction other than that of its own courts. The validity of the seizure in question, therefore, presupposed the competence of Belgian courts under international law to take cognizance of suits between its nationals and a foreign government, and to execute judgment against

Turkey

____________________
1
Pasicrisie, 1877-3-28; Belgique Judiciaire, 1876, col. 1468.

-198-

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