Latvia Case

CourtCourt of Appeal of Berlin (Germany)
Date25 a 1955
German Federal Republic, Higher Court of Appeal (Kammergericht) of Berlin.
Republic of Latvia Case.

Recognition — Of Annexation — Effect of Non-Recognition — Incorporation of Latvia into Soviet Union — Locus standi of Latvian Diplomatic Representative in Court Proceedings.

Jurisdiction — Exemptions from — Foreign States — Real Property Owned by Foreign State — Property Not Used as Residence of Envoy or for Diplomatic Business — Whether Property Subject to Local Jurisdiction — Diplomatic Representative of State Incorporated into Another State — Non-Recognition of Incorporation — Government-in-Exile Recognized in Country of Forum — Locus Standi of Government-in-Exile in Judicial Proceedings.

The facts of this case and the judgment of the court of first instance are set out in the International Law Reports for 1953, at p. 180. The Higher Court of Appeal of Berlin confirmed the judgment of the Court of first instance and made the following observations on (1) the immunity of foreign States from local jurisdiction, and (2) the non-recognition of the annexation of a State by another State.

As to (1): “With regard to the exterritoriality of foreign States and their status vis-à-vis the courts of the forum, two doctrines are current in international law: the doctrine of absolute immunity and the doctrine of limited immunity. While, according to the former, foreign States are, as a general rule, exempt from the jurisdiction of the local courts, such exemption does not exist, according to the latter, where a foreign State has entered the sphere of private law. The (former) Supreme Court followed the doctrine of absolute immunity (cf. RGZ, vol. 62, p. 165, and ibid., vol. 103, p. 274). There is a growing tendency, however, to adopt the doctrine of limited immunity. This has become necessary because States increasingly exercise activities in the realm of private law, and especially in trade. The judgment of the Austrian Supreme Court of May 10, 1950,[1] has broken new ground in securing the acceptance of the doctrine of limited immunity. This judgment considers in great detail the application of the latter doctrine in the practice of different courts and concludes that it has been adopted not only by Austrian courts but also by the courts of Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Greece, Roumania, Brazil, and partly also by the courts of France. Furthermore, the judgment states that the decisions of the former Mixed Tribunals of Alexandria and Cairo were similarly based on...

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