Personal Injuries (Occupied Germany) Case

Docket NumberCase No. 147
Date09 Abril 1952
CourtRegional Administrative Court (Germany)
German Federal Republic, Administrative Court of Appeal of Münster.
Case No. 147
Personal Injuries (Occupied Germany) Case.

Belligerent Occupation — Rights and Duties of Occupant — Liability of Occupying Power — Personal Injuries Caused to Inhabitants of Occupied Territory — Whether Proof of Negligence Required — Whether Damages Payable for Pain and Suffering.

Belligerent Occupation — Treatment of Inhabitants — Liability for Personal Injuries Caused by Personnel of Occupying Power — Whether Proof of Negligence Required — Damages Recoverable.

The Facts.—The plaintiff, a German citizen, sustained severe personal injuries when a motor vehicle of one of the Occupying Powers in occupied Germany collided with him. The “Claims Panel” of the Control Commission for Germany (British Zone) acknowledged the plaintiff's claim to be well-founded, and in accordance with the relevant legislation of the British occupation authorities the amount of the damages recoverable by the plaintiff had to be assessed by the German authorities. The latter refused to award damages in respect of the plaintiff's loss of earnings and pain and suffering. The administrative court allowed the plaintiff's appeal so far as concerned the refusal to award him damages for loss of earnings, but dismissed his appeal against the refusal to award him damages for pain and suffering. The plaintiff appealed again.

Held: that, regardless of whether the Hague Regulations of 1907 were applicable to the occupation of Germany, the liability of the Occupying Power for injuries caused by personnel under its command was, under customary international law, absolute and not dependent on proof of negligence, that such absolute liability included a legal duty to make good all damage caused, including so-called incorporeal damage, and that plaintiff was therefore entitled to an award of damages in respect of pain and suffering. The Court said:

“The plaintiff's claim for damages derives not only from public municipal law, but also from international law. By virtue of Article 3 of the Hague Regulations of 1907 a State is liable for all acts [viz., violations of the Regulations] committed by persons belonging to its armed forces. According to the wide wording of Article 3, which has been chosen in the interests of the protection of the civilian population, fault on the part of the person who has caused the damage is not a prerequisite of liability. It is therefore an undisputed principle of the doctrine of...

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