Sale of Land (Germany) Case

CourtCourt of Appeal of Oldenburg (Germany)
Docket NumberCase No.10
Date09 s 1952
German Federal Republic, Court of Appeal of Oldenburg.
Case No.10
Sale of Land (Germany) Case.

State Succession — Liability for Contractual Obligations — Sale of Land to German Reich — Failure of Reich to Pay Purchase Price — Liability of German Federal Republic.

States — Continuity of — German Reich and German Federal Republic — Sale of Land to German Reich — Failure of Reich to Pay Purchase Price — Whether German Federal Republic Liable to Return Land to Vendors — Whether German Federal Republic Liable to Pay Purchase Price.

The Facts.—In 1944 the plaintiffs sold a parcel of land to the German Reich. The purchase price remained unpaid, and the plaintiffs now brought an action against the German Federal Republic, as successor in title of the German Reich, for the return of the land, alternatively for payment of the purchase price. As far as here material, the Federal Republic contended that where one contracting party has performed the contract—as the plaintiffs had done in the present case—while the other has failed to do so, the latter cannot, according to German law, be compelled to return what he has received unless his inability to perform the contract is permanent and not merely temporary; and that as the inability of the Federal Republic to perform the contract was likely to last only until such time as a law would be enacted providing in some form for the liability of the Federal Republic to discharge the debts of the Reich, the Federal Republic was not bound to return the land to the plaintiffs. With regard to the alternative claim for payment of the purchase price, the Federal Republic contended that it was not the successor in title of the Reich so as to be liable to discharge all the debts of the latter, and that the alternative claim must therefore also be dismissed.

Held: (i) that the inability of the Federal Republic of Germany to perform the contract was only temporary, and that accordingly the plaintiffs were not entitled to...

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