1927

PCIJ

Chorzow Factory Case Germany v. Poland May 25, 1926 Merits

(19)It might be asked whether a difficulty does not arise from the fact that the Court would have to deal with the Polish law… From the standpoint of International Law and of the Court which is its organ, municipal laws are merely facts which express the will and constitute the activities of States, in the same manner as do legal decision or administrative measures. The Court is certainly not called upon to interpret the Polish law as such; but there is nothing to prevent the Court’s giving judgment on the question whether or not, in applying the law, Poland is acting in conformity with its obligations towards Germany under the Geneva Convention. (21) [Commenting article 6 Geneva Convention the Court said] there can be no doubt that the expropriation allowed under Head III of the Convention is a derogation from the rules generally applied in regard to the treatment of foreigners and the principle of respect for vested right. As this derogation itself is strictly in the nature of an exception … any measure … which oversteps the limits set by the generally accepted principles of international law, is therefore incompatible with the regime established under the convention…. It follows from these same principles that the only measures prohibited are those which generally accepted international law does not sanction in respect of foreigners; expropriation for reasons of public utility, judicial liquidation and similar measures are not affected by the Convention.

(28)[commenting on the fact that Poland was not a part of the Treaty of Versailles] A treaty only creates law as between the States which are parties to it; in case of doubt, no rights can be deduced form it in favour of third States. (31)[Commenting on the Treaty of Versailles] although the Treaty does not expressly and positively enunciate the principle that in the event of a change of sovereignty, private rights must be respected, this principle is clearly recognized by the Treaty For these reasons, the Court, having heard both Parties, gives judgment as follows: (I) That the application both of Article 2 and of Article 5 of the law of July 14th 1920, in Polish Upper Silesia, decreed by the law of June 16th, 1922, constitutes, in so far as it affects German nationals or companies controlled by German nationals covered by Part I, head III, of the Geneva Convention, a measure contrary to Article 6 and the following articles of that Convention.