1927

PCIJ

Chorzow Factory Case Germany v. Poland Judgment No. 6, August 25 1925 Jurisdiction

On 1915 a contract was concluded between the German Empire and a company of Bavaria to establish for the Reich a nitrate factory at Chorzow, Upper Silesia. On 1919 a new company was formed and the Reich sold to that company the factory at Chorzow On July 1st, 1922 a Polish court gave a decision to the effect that the factory was registered in the name of the Polish Treasury. This decision cited article 256 of the Treaty of Versailles, a Polish law of July 14th 1920 and a Polish Decree of July 16th 1922. Germany claimed that a) the Polish law constituted a measure of liquidation of the property, rights and interest involved, b) this liquidation was not in conformity with the Treaty of Versailles, 3) that it was contrary to article 6 of the 1922 Geneva Convention between Germany and Poland concerning Upper Silesia. Article 297 of the treaty of Versailles relates to the liquidation by the Allied Powers of property, rights and interest of German nationals within the territories of such Powers. Article 92 of the treaty of Versailles provides that property of German nationals shall not be liquidated by the Polish Government “Powers to which German territories is ceded shall acquire all property and possessions situated therein belonging to the German Empire or the German States, and the value of such acquisitions shall be fixed by the Reparations Commissions, and paid by the State acquiring the territory to the Reparations Commission for the credit of the German Government on account of the sums due for reparations. For the purposes of this article, the property and possessions of the German Empire and States shall be deemed to include all the property of the Crown, the Empire or the States, and the private property of the former German Emperor and other Royal personages”

Article 6 of the Geneva Convention provides that Poland may expropriate in Upper Silesia major industrial undertakings, but the property, rights and interest of German nationals cannot be liquidated. “Poland may expropriate in Polish Upper Silesia, in conformity with the provisions of Articles 7 to 23, undertakings belonging to the category of major industries including mineral deposits and rural estates. Except as provided in these clauses, the property, rights and interest of German nationals or of companies controlled by German nationals may not be liquidated in Polish Upper Silesia” Germany claimed indemnity for the damage caused by the illegal seizure. Resolution: (16) [analyzing article 6 of Geneva Conventions the Court said] Whatever may be the scope, in this article, of the conception of “liquidation” and “expropriation”, it is clear that it is intended to define Poland’s powers in regard to this point and in the territory in question (20) It is a much disputed question in the teaching of legal authorities and in the jurisprudence of the principal countries whether the doctrine of litispendance … can be invoked in international relations, in the sense that the judges of one State should, in the absence of a treaty, refuse to entertain any suit already pending before the courts of another State, exactly as they would be bound to do if an action on the same subject had at some previous time been brought in due form before another court of their own country... it is clear that the essential elements which constitute litispendance are not present. There is no question of two identical actions… the parties are not the same, and, finally, the Mixed Arbitral Tribunals and the Permanent Court of International Justice are not courts of the same character.