In 1975 the Central Bank of Nigeria issued a letter in favour of the plaintiffs, a Swiss company, for the price of cement to be sold by the plaintiffs to an English company, which had secured a contract with the Nigerian government to supply it with cement for the construction of barracks in Nigeria
Under instructions from the Nigerian Government the Bank refused to honour the letter of credit, the plaintiffs brought an action in personam against the Bank in the English High Court.
The Bank claimed that it could not be sued in England, on the letter of credit; because it was entitled to sovereign immunity
[This case is actio in persona, compare to Phillipine 1977, both abandoned absolute immunity before the 1978 State Immunity Act]
[Compare to International Tin (1990)]
[Case was NOT referred to HL, but was cited there in I Congreso del Partido 1988]
[State immunity can be claimed by State & Separate entity]
LORD DENNING: …What is the place of International Law in our English Law? One school of thought holds to the doctrine of incorporation. It says that the rules of international law are incorporated into English law automatically and considered to be part of English law unless they are in conflict with an Act of Parliament. The other school of thought holds to the doctrine of transformation. It says that the rules of international law are not to be considered as part of English law except insofar as they have been already adopted by decisions of judges or by act of Parliament, or long established custom. The difference is vital when you are faced with a change in rules of international law….
… I now believe that the doctrine of incorporation is correct. Otherwise I do not see that our courts could ever recognise a change in the rules of international law …
…When the rules of international law were changed (by the force of public opinion) so as to condemn slavery, the English courts were justified in applying the modern rules of international law…see R. v. Kent Justices, ex parte Lye…