Morocco v Laurens
|Regional Court (France)
|Case No. 75
|30 décembre 1930
Protectorates — France and Morocco — Retention of Independent Status despite Surrender of Control over External Affairs.
Jurisdiction — Exemption — Foreign States — International Loans — Limits of Presumptive Waiver — Protectorates — Immunities of — Immunity of Agents.
The Facts.—These were interlocutory proceedings by way of exception (demurrer) on the part of the Moroccan Government which pleaded its immunity from the jurisdiction of the Court. (Maspero was joined as delegate of the bondholders controlling the service of the loan.)
In 1904, before the establishment of the French Protectorate, the Sultan of Morocco, Abdul Aziz, obtained a foreign loan. Eleven banks, including the respondent Bank, negotiated the loan, which was charged on the Moroccan customs and made repayable over 35 years. After the World War there arose the question of payment in devalorised francs. Laurens, for the Bondholders' Protection Association, claimed payment of coupons due in gold francs, or their equivalent. He sued, in the first instance, the Société Marseillaise de Crédit for such payment and obtained judgment. He then proceeded against the Imperial Government of Morocco, asking for the appointment of a Receiver for the bondholders of the annual customs receipts of the whole Empire, to hold these in guaranteed gold francs for their benefit. Thirdly, he applied for an account from Maspero, delegate of the bondholders. Other actions were brought against the issuing banks.
Held, on the question of immunity: that this was established as regards the Government; and that the Société Marseillaise and Maspero, as its agents, shared the immunity.
(a) Immunity from Jurisdiction. From the universally admitted principle of the independence of States it followed that the courts of one country could not deal with engagements contracted by a foreign State. The right of adjudicating on differences arising from its own acts belonged exclusively to the State in question. “This immunity is absolute when the acts which give ground for complaint are acts of the State itself (de puissance publique) committed by the foreign Government in the political exercise of its functions.”
(b) Protectorates and Exemption from Jurisdiction. “Part-sovereign States or Protectorates which have retained internal sovereignty, the right of self-government, self-administration and...
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