1967

HL

Carl Zeiss Stiftung v Rayner & Keeler [1967] 1 AC 853

Defendants were trading under the name of CZS (making optical instruments) and plaintiffs were solicitors on behalf an East German Corporation of the same name, seeking and injunction against the defendants. Defendants said that since the East German company was incorporated under law of East Germany, not recognised by the UK, the court could not act to protect it, since the UK courts could not give effect to laws of a foreign state not recognised Lord Reid: it is a firmly established principle that the question whether a foreign state ruler or government is or is not sovereign is one on which our courts accept as conclusive the information provided by Her Majesty’s government. No evidence is admissible to contradict that information. UK has recognised the state and government of the USSR as de jure entitled to exercise governing authority in respect of that zone. The German Democratic Republic was set up by the USSR and it derived its authority and status from the government of the USSR [recognised]… therefore in my opinion the courts of this country cannot treat as nullities acts done by or on behalf of the GDR [fiction of agency]

Lord Wilberforce: As Locke said: ‘a government without laws is a mystery in politics, inconceivable to human capacity and inconsistent with human society’ US court had said that the idea of non recognition cannot be pressed to its ultimate logical limit, where private rights, or acts of every day occurrence, or perfunctory acts of administration are concerned, the court may, in the interest of justice and common sense, where no consideration of public policy to the contrary has to prevail, give recognition to the factual facts or realities found to exists in the territory in question. No doctrine is yet to be found in English law, but equally, in my opinion, there is nothing in those English decision, in which recognition has been refused to particular acts or non-recognised governments, which would prevent its acceptance or which prescribes the absolute and total invalidity of all laws and acts flowing from unrecognised governments… it is not necessary here to recur to this doctrine, but for my part, I should wish to regard it as an open question. Her Majesty’s government have not granted any recognition de jure or de facto to the ‘German Democratic Republic’ … the certificates therefore in my opinion establish the USSR (it did not matter what the USSR said in this respect) as de jure entitled to exercise governing authority and in full control of the area of the Eastern Zone. A conclusion in other sense would be in direct contradiction to the certificate. Hesperies Hotels v Aegean Holidays Ltd (1978) two hotels owned by the Greek Cypriot plaintiffs were being run by Turkish Cypriots under the administration of Turkey after the invasion of Cypriot in 1974. The case was dismissed because lack of jurisdiction since UK did not recognised the Turkish administration as de jure or de facto, however in obiter dicta Lord Denning: If it were necessary to do so … I would hold that the courts can recognise the laws or acts of a body which is in effective control of a territory even though it has not been recognised by Her Majesty …at any rate in regards to laws which regulate the day to day affairs of the people, such as marriages, divorces, …