M v Aktieselskabet KH

CourtObsolete Court (Germany)
Docket NumberCase No. 217
Germany, Reichsgericht (in Civil Matters).
Case No. 217
M.
and
Aktieselskabet K.H.

Treaties — Operation of — Whether Effective in Relation to Nationals of Non-Contracting Parties.

War — Effect on Property — Measures of Sequestration of Private Enemy Property — Whether Contrary to International Law — Articles 297 and 298 of the Treaty of Versailles — Whether Applicable in relation to Nationals of Neutral States.

The Facts.—The plaintiff, a German national, was one of the partners in a firm in Rheims whose property was on the outbreak of the War of 1914–1918 handed over to an administrator and then sold by the French authorities at a compulsory auction. The firm had a credit account with a Danish bank. On April 19, 1918, the Bank, at the request of the public administrator in France, paid over to him the balance owed to the firm. The plaintiff now maintained that the Bank was neither bound nor entitled to pay any money owing to the firm except in pursuance of the signature of a duly authorised partner or partners. The defendants asserted that the French Administrator was a person duly authorised to receive payment. They also invoked Article 297(d) and § 1(3) of the Annex to Articles 297 and 298 of the Treaty of Versailles which declared as inadmissible actions arising out of war measures of Allied and Associated Powers. The Court of first instance found for the plaintiff. The Court of Appeal dismissed the action. On further appeal,

Held: that the plaintiff must succeed.

I. According to rules of international private law as understood in Germany the contract between the firm and the Bank was governed by Danish law. According to that law the Bank was bound and entitled to pay the money to a duly authorised representative of the firm. It was true that the question as to who was a duly authorised representative of the firm was to be decided according to French law. However, “if at the time at which the French Administrator asked the...

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