Publication of Treaties (Germany) Case

CourtObsolete Court (Germany)
Docket NumberCase No. 234
Germany, Reichsgericht in Criminal Matters.
Case No. 234
Publication of Treaties (Germany) Case.

Treaties — Operation and Enforcement of — German Constitution — Effect of Publication in the Journal of Laws — Function of Publication — Deposit of Ratifications.

The Facts.—The Journal of the Laws of the Reich (Reichsgesetzblatt) published on 13 January, 1920, an announcement by the German Minister for Foreign Affairs of 11 January, 1920, to the effect that the Treaty of Versailles had been ratified by the signatory States, and that the first protocol on the deposit of ratifications was signed on 10 January, 1920. According to the German Constitution, German laws become effective within fourteen days of their publication in the Journal of Laws. The Court below held that as in view of this provision of the Constitution the Treaty of Versailles became effective, as between the Reich and German subjects, on 27 January, 1920, the offence of the accused committed during the period from 14–19 January was not punishable under the provisions of the Treaty.

Held, on final appeal on a point of law: That the Opinion of the Court below cannot be accepted. The announcement of the Minister of 11 January, 1920, did not have reference to any decision of the German Parliament. It contained no legal provision. It merely stated the fact that the Treaty had been ratified and that the ratifications had been exchanged. Article 71 of the new Constitution is identical with Article 2, paragraph 3, of the old Constitution. The latter had been consistently interpreted by the Reichsgericht to the effect that treaties acquire through publication the force of law; it was...

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