A collision occurred in the high seas between the French steamer Lotus, and Turkish steamer Bos Kourt, the latter was sunk. Upon the arrival of the Lotus at a Turkish port, the officer Lieutenant Demons was arrested of manslaughter. Turkey, by exercising its criminal jurisdiction in prosecuting the French citizen, was acting contrary to international law? By casting vote, court said she had not.
Arguments of the French government:
1.- IL does not allow a State to take proceedings on offences committed by foreigners abroad, simply by reason of the nationality of the victim
2.- IL recognizes exclusive jurisdiction of the State whose flag is flown as regards every thing which occurs on board a ship on the high seas
3. Questions of jurisdiction in collision cases have risen in civil court, not in criminal courts
[This case is seen as establishing a presumption in favour of the validity of any claim to prescriptive jurisdiction, positive approach]
International law governs relations between independent States. The rules of law binding upon States emanate from their own free will. Restrictions upon the independence of States cannot therefore be presumed. [Lotus presumption, freedom of states]
Now the 1st and foremost restriction imposed by IL upon a State is that it may not exercise its power in any form in the territory of another state. In this sense jurisdiction is certainly territorial; it cannot be exercised by a state outside its territory except by virtue of a permissive rule derived from international custom or from a convention.
IL far from laying down a general prohibition to the effect that States may not extend the application of their laws and the jurisdiction of their courts outside their territory, it leaves them with wide discretion. All that is required of a State is that it should not overstep the limits which IL places upon its jurisdiction, within these limits, its title to exercise jurisdiction rest in its sovereignty