Newhouse v Reich

CourtSupreme Restitution Court (Germany)
Date16 m 1959
Federal Republic of Germany, Supreme Restitution Court, Second Division.1
Newhouse et Al.
and
Reich.

International law Subjects of Individuals Whether entitled to challenge validity of legislation on ground of inconsistency with treaty Relevance of specific provision for settlement of disputes arising under treaty Convention on Settlement of Matters arising out of the War and the Occupation, 1954 The law of Germany.

The individual in international law Position of Whether entitled to challenge validity of legislation on ground of inconsistency with treaty Relevance of specific provision for settlement of disputes arising under treaty Convention on Settlement of Matters arising out of the War and the Occupation, 1954 The law of Germany.

International law Relation to municipal law Treaty providing that certain municipal legislation cannot be replaced except with consent of specified States Convention on Settlement of Matters arising out of the War and the Occupation, 1954 Restitution legislation required to be maintained in force by Federal Republic of Germany Amendment and replacement of such legislation only with consent of the Three Powers Whether Federal German Restitution Law, 1957, in breach of Convention, Chapter 1, Article 1, and Chapter 3, Articles 2, 3 and 4.

The Facts.The claimants, Charlotte Newhouse and eight other persons, had successfully brought a claim for compensation under Law 59, the Restitution Law applicable in the former British Zone of Germany, in respect of household effects of which their predecessor in title had been deprived. The Chamber, whose decision was upheld by the Oberlandesgericht of Dsseldorf, ordered the Reich to pay the claimants compensation in the amount of DM 20,500. The claimants submitted a petition for review to the Supreme Restitution Court objecting to the method of assessing the compensation followed by the lower courts.

Their main contention was that the Oberlandesgericht should not have relied on the provisions of the Federal Restitution Law (Bundesrckerstttungsgesetz) relating to the computation of compensation as this Law was null and void. They maintained that, in enacting the Law, the Federal Republic violated Articles 2, 3 and 4 of Chapter 3 of the Settlement Convention2 and disregarded the fact that the Convention had become internal German law.

The claimants further contended that the Federal Restitution Law violated the Military Government restitution legislation to their detriment, and that this constituted an act of confiscation without due process of law and without compensation, in contravention of Articles 3 and 14 of the Basic Law.

If, contrary to their contention, the Federal Restitution Law was held to be valid and applicable, the claimants objected to the way in which the lower Courts had applied Article 16 of the Law concerning the computation of compensation in D Marks. It provided that the sum payable was to be governed by the cost of replacement of the affected property, and that the material date for arriving at the cost of replacement was April 1, 1956. The present report is limited to the claimants' main contentions, as the argument on the application of Article 16 of the Federal Restitution Law was concerned solely with German municipal law.

Held: that the claimants' main contentions must be rejected. The Federal Restitution Law was not in conflict with the relevant provisions of the Settlement Convention, and there was no evidence that the Three Powers had challenged any of the provisions of the Law. Moreover, the Powers had expressly agreed to the application of the Law to Berlin, and it could not be supposed that they would disapprove its application to the Federal Republic. Even assuming...

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