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Part of the book series: LCF Studies in Commercial and Financial Law ((LCFSCFL,volume 2))

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Abstract

The case concerning the factory of Chorzów (1927–1928) is known as a landmark in public international law: its reasons are often quoted with regard to issues of competence of international courts and of state liability. This contribution proposes to contextualize the case in line with the Versailles Treaty, the question of reparation, the special situation of Upper Silesia and the recognition of Germany’s rights against Poland’s claims. In order to settle this case, the judges of the Permanent Court of International Justice had to disentangle a complex configuration in which public and private interests were intimately mixed. In doing so, they discussed arguments that were based on rules of private law concerning ownership, contracts and torts. Without quoting any national law, the Permanent Court of International Justice transplanted a kind of common private law (inspired by some recent developments in European countries of the time) into “general principles” of international law.

Jean-Louis Halpérin is Professor of Law at the Social Sciences Department of the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Brown (2017).

  2. 2.

    Grotius (2012), Prolegomena, VIII.

  3. 3.

    Ibid., Book II, chapter XVII.

  4. 4.

    Ibid. Book III, chapter XIII.

  5. 5.

    Gillespie (2011).

  6. 6.

    Gomes (2010), p. 8.

  7. 7.

    Siegert (2020), p. 247.

  8. 8.

    Auroi and Helg (2012); Becker Lorca (2015).

  9. 9.

    Moore (1898).

  10. 10.

    See Distefano and Buzzini (2005), p. 1041 for a reference to the Roman law of damages.

  11. 11.

    First point: Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.

  12. 12.

    Weill-Raynal (1938).

  13. 13.

    Trachtebeg (1979).

  14. 14.

    Bloch and Renouvin (1932).

  15. 15.

    Bonde (1928).

  16. 16.

    Laws of 31 March, and 17 April 1919.

  17. 17.

    Art. 87-93 including the referendum in Upper-Silesia.

  18. 18.

    Art. 256.

  19. 19.

    Art. 296.

  20. 20.

    Section 1 below.

  21. 21.

    Section 2 below.

  22. 22.

    Section 3 below.

  23. 23.

    Basu (1978).

  24. 24.

    The so-called “Greater Poland Uprising”.

  25. 25.

    As had been provided for in Wilson’s fourteen points.

  26. 26.

    Who were in favour of Polish claims.

  27. 27.

    In May to July 1921, just after the Riga Treaty ending the Soviet-Polish war and settling the eastern frontiers of Poland.

  28. 28.

    Thanks to the role of Jean Monnet, as Deputy Secretary General of the League of Nations.

  29. 29.

    Erpleding (2017).

  30. 30.

    Despite a majority vote in favour of Germany inside the city.

  31. 31.

    In some cases under a foreign domination.

  32. 32.

    Erpleding (2017).

  33. 33.

    Kaeckenbeeck (1935).

  34. 34.

    Certain German Interests in Upper Silesia, Collection of Judgments, 1926, case number 7 (25 May 1926).

  35. 35.

    The German Empires and the Federation of States inside the Reich.

  36. 36.

    Article 256 of the Versailles Treaty.

  37. 37.

    Which explains the extension at this date of the 1920 Polish law which already applied for example in the Posen province.

  38. 38.

    Art. 256 of the Versailles Treaty.

  39. 39.

    Weill-Raynal (1938), p. 96.

  40. 40.

    Commission de publication des documents diplomatiques français (2004), p. 167.

  41. 41.

    Collection of Judgments (1926), p. 24.

  42. 42.

    Case concerning certain German interests in Polish Upper Silesia.

  43. 43.

    Collection of Judgments (1926), p. 28.

  44. 44.

    Collection of Judgments (1926), p. 84.

  45. 45.

    Collection of Judgments (1928), p. 45 (Judgment No. 13).

  46. 46.

    “Advanced the funds”, said the Court in the case N°6, Collection of Judgments (1925), p. 17.

  47. 47.

    Case No. 6, Collection of Judgements (1925), p. 8.

  48. 48.

    Case No. 7, Collection of Judgments, (1926) p. 43.

  49. 49.

    Helmholz and Zimmermann (1998).

  50. 50.

    Which was distinguished from the property in the land, Case No. 7, Collection of judgments (1925), p. 17.

  51. 51.

    Case No. 7, Collection of judgments (1925), p. 19.

  52. 52.

    Case No. 9, Collection of Judgments (1927), p. 5.

  53. 53.

    Ibid., (1927), p. 16.

  54. 54.

    Case No. 13, Collection of Judgments (1928), p. 25.

  55. 55.

    Probably because the production was stopped and part of the factory damaged.

  56. 56.

    Ibid., p. 28.

  57. 57.

    Case No. 7, Collection of Judgments (1927) p. 88.

  58. 58.

    Case No. 7, Collection of Judgments (1926), p. 22.

  59. 59.

    Caglioti (2020).

  60. 60.

    A principle that was recognized by the belligerent States in the 1899–1907 Hague conventions.

  61. 61.

    Caglioti (2014).

  62. 62.

    Mantoux (1955), p. 276.

  63. 63.

    Mantoux (1955), pp. 275–276.

  64. 64.

    According to Article 10 which presupposed a right to claim for compensation.

  65. 65.

    Article 22 with the competence of the Arbitral Tribunal.

  66. 66.

    Lacché (2000).

  67. 67.

    Case No. 6, Collection of Judgments (1925), p. 17.

  68. 68.

    Notably in Gaius’ Institutes II, pp. 12–14.

  69. 69.

    Which had for a time been the property of the German Reich according to the principle superficies solo cedit.

  70. 70.

    The ownership of lands and buildings having been transmitted to the private companies in 1919.

  71. 71.

    Case No. 7, Collection of Judgments (1926), pp. 37–39.

  72. 72.

    Justinian’s Institutes I, 6, p. 3.

  73. 73.

    Case No. 13, Collection of Judgments (1928), p. 31.

  74. 74.

    Ibid.

  75. 75.

    Ibid., p. 35.

  76. 76.

    Case No. 7, Collection of Judgments (1926), p. 39.

  77. 77.

    Case No. 13, Collection of judgments (1928), p. 28.

  78. 78.

    Case No. 13, Collection of judgments (1928), p. 47.

  79. 79.

    Ibid., pp. 66–67.

  80. 80.

    Case No. 17, Collection of judgments (1928), p. 47.

  81. 81.

    Moore (1898), p. 4909.

  82. 82.

    Case No. 17, Collection of judgments (1928), pp. 52–53.

  83. 83.

    Zimmermann (1996), p. 827.

  84. 84.

    Von Thur (1924), p. 70; Fleury (2020), p. 1987.

  85. 85.

    Art. 157, section 1.

  86. 86.

    (1880) 5 App Cas 25; see also Zimmermann (1996), p. 824.

  87. 87.

    Case No. 17, Collection of judgments (1928), p. 51.

  88. 88.

    Ibid., p. 57.

  89. 89.

    Ibid., p. 53.

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Halpérin, JL. (2024). The Factory of Chorzów Case: A Bridge Between International Law and Private Law. In: Heidemann, M. (eds) The Transformation of Private Law – Principles of Contract and Tort as European and International Law. LCF Studies in Commercial and Financial Law, vol 2. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-28497-7_14

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