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Reflections on the Sabbatino Case

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 March 2017

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Abstract

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Editorial Comment
Copyright
Copyright © American Society of International Law 1965

References

1 Banco Nacional de Cuba v. Sabbatino, 376 U. 8. 398 (1964), 58 A.J.I.L. 779 (1964). Subsequent references are to the report of the case in this JOURNAL. For lower court opinions, see 193 F. Supp. 395 (1961), 55 A.J.I.L. 741 (1961); and 307 F. 2d 845 (1962), 56 A.J.I.L. 1085 (1962).

2 The Paquete Habana, 175 U. S. 677 (1899).

3 Murray v. the Charming Betsey, 2 Cranch 64 (1804) ; American Banana Co. v. United Fruit Co., 213 U. 8. 347 (1909).

4 58 A.J.I.L. 801 (1964). As early as 1688 Lord Chancellor Nottingham said in the House of Lords (Cottington's Case, 2 Swanst. 326, note, cited in Hilton v. Guyot, 159 IT. S. 113 (1895)): “ I t is against the law of nations not to give credit to the judgments and sentences of foreign countries till they be reversed by the law and according to the form of those countries wherein they were given; for what right hath one kingdom to reverse the judgments of another.“

5 Quincy Wright, “International Law and Ideologies,” 48 A.J.I.L. 616 (1954).

6 U.N. Charter, Art. 2, pars. 1, 4, 7.

7 Wright, note 5 above, and “Maintaining Peaceful Coexistence,” in Wright, Evans and Deutsch (eds.), Preventing World War III, p. 410 £E« (New York, Simon and Schuster, 1962). The utility of this term as the minimum requirement of universal international law, without prejudice to co-operation among agreeing states, has been emphasized by James Brierly (The Outlook for International Law, 1944, p. 4) and Wolfgang Friedmann (The Changing Structure of International Law, 1964, pp. 15, 58 ft., 297). It is unfortunate that recent ideological controversies have obscured its clear meaning (John Hazard, 59 A.J.I.L. 59 (1965)).

8 58 A.J.I.L. 793 (1964).

9 The Lotus (France v. Turkey), P.C.I.J. 1927, Ser. A, No. 10, p. 19; 2 Hudson, World Court Reports 20, 35.

10 Oppenheim, International Law (8th ed., Lauterpacht), sec. 115 aa. See also Ben A. Wortley, , “Indonesian Nationalization Measures,” 55 A.J.I.L. 680 (1961); H. W. Baade, “The Validity of Foreign Confiscations,” 56 ibid. 504 (1962).

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11 Hilton v. Guyot, 159 U. S. 113 (1895), and note 10 above.

12 U. S. Constitution, Art. IV, sec. 1; Williams v. North Carolina, 325 U. S. 226 (1945).

13 Hudson v. Guestier, 6 Cranch 281 (1810); Rose v. Himely, 4 Cranch 241 (1808).

14 The Flad Oyen, 1 C. Bob. 135 (1799); The Appam, 243 U. 8. 124 (1917), 11 A.J.I.L. 443 (1917).

15 Declaration regarding forced transfers of property in enemy controlled territory, 8 Dept. of State Bulletin 21 (1943) ; Anderson v. N. V. Transandine Handel Maatschappij, 289 N.Y. 9 (1942), 28 N.Y. S. 2d 547; 36 A.J.I.L. 701 (1942).

16 State of the Netherlands v. Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 201 F. 2d 455 (1953); 47 A.J.I.L. 496 (1953).

17 Bernstein v. N. V. Nederlandsche-Amerikaansche Stoomvaart Maatschappij, 173 F. 2d 71 (1949), 44 A.J.I.L. 182 (1950); and 210 F. 2d 375 (1954), 48 A.J.I.L. 499 (1954). The Supreme Court took a somewhat dim view of the Bernstein letter in Sabbatino. See Richard Falk, “The Complexity of Sabbatino,” 58 A.J.I.L. 937 ff. (1964).

18 The Schooner Exchange v. McFaddon, 7 Cranch 136 (1812); Berizzi Bros. v. The Pesaro, 271 IT. S. 562 (1926); The Cristina, [1938] A.C. 485.

19 Underhill v. Hernandez, 168 U. S. 250 (1897).

20 Horn v. Mitchell, 232 Fed. 819, 824 (1916).

21 Hilton v. Guyot, 159 U. S. 113 (1895).

22 U.N. International Law Commission, discussion of state responsibility, 57 A.J.I.L. 255 (1963), 58 ibid. 318, 323 (1964); Louis B. Sohn and E. B. Baxter, “International Responsibility of States for Injuries to the Economic Interests of Aliens,” 55 ibid. 545, 559, 569 ff. (1961) ; Martin Domke, “Foreign Nationalizations,” 55 ibid. 585 ff. (1961); S. N. Guha Eoy, “ I s the Law of Responsibility of States for Injuries to Aliens a Part of Universal International Law?” ibid. 863 ff.; Wolfgang Friedmann, , The Changing Structure of International Law 318 ff. (New York, Columbia University Press, 1964); opinions of Lord McNair, Henri Rolin, and Alfred Verdross, on Indonesian nationalization of Dutch properties (1958), in 6 Netherlands International Law Review 218 ff. (Extra issue, 1959); note 33 below.

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23 Note 19 above, and Sabbatino, 58 A.J.I.L. 785 (1964).

24 Cushing, Administrator v. U. S., 22 Ct. Claims 1 (1886).

25 Sabbatino, 58 A.J.I.L. 788 (1964).

26 Harvard Research draft conventions on Extradition, Art. 9, and on Jurisdiction with Respect to Crime, Art. 13; 29 A.J.I.L. Supp. 144 fit., 602 ff. (1935).

27 White, J. dissenting in Sabbatino, and John E. Stevenson, , “The State Department and Sabbatino,” 58 A.J.I.L. 707 ff., 795 ff. (1964).

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28 Harvard Research draft convention on Competence of Courts in regard to Foreign States, Art. 26; 26 A.J.I.L. Supp. 616 ff. (1932).

29 Nottebohm Case (Liechtenstein v. Guatemala), [1955], I.C.J. Rep. 4; 49 A.J.I.L. 396 (1955); Josef L. Kunz, “The Nottebohm Judgment,” 54 ibid. 536, 549 (1960).

30 The Interhandel Case (Switzerland v. U. S.), [1959], I.C.J. Rep. 6; 53 A.J.I.L. 671, 682 ff. (1959).

31 David R. Mummery, , “The Content of the Duty to Exhaust Local Judicial Remedies,“ 58 A.J.I.L. 390 (1964), and 1964 Proceedings, American Society of International Law 107 ff.

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32 Note 22 above.

33 Sabbatino, 58 A.J.I.L. 795 (1964).

34 Note 11 above.

35 Domke, Martin, ‘ ‘ Indonesian Nationalization Measures before Foreign Courts,'’ 54 A.J.I.L. 305 ft. (1960); Hans W. Baade, “Indonesian Nationalization Measures before Foreign Courts—a Reply,'’ (bid. 801 ff.

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36 Baade, loo. cit. 833; William H. Beeves, , “Act of State Doctrine and the Rule of Law—a Reply,” 54 A.J.I.L. 141, 147 (1960).

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37 Re Helbert “Wagg & Co. Ltd., [1956] 1 All E. B. 129, 139 (Ch.), 50 A.J.I.L. 683 (1956); Baade, loo. cit. 834.

38 Salimoff v. Standard Oil Co., 262 N.Y. 220 (1933); Banco de Espana v. Federal Reserve Bank of N. Y., 114 F. 2d 438 (1940); Oetjen v. Central Leather Co., 246 TJ. S. 297 (1918). Property of American nationals was involved in Bieaud v. American Metal Co., 246 IT. S. 304 (1918). See Baade, loo. cit. 832.

39 According to Baade, most, but not all, writers support the proposition ‘ ‘ that expropriations of the property of nationals of third states will not be refused recognition either on the basis of public international law or on the basis of private international law.” Loo. cit. 834.

40 James N. Hyde, , “The Act of State Doctrine and the Eule of Law,” 53 A.J.I.L. 635 (1959).

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41 Notes 1 and 27 above.

42 Note 17 above.

43 See notes 18, 24; Beeves, loo.cit. 41, note 36 above; Michael Cardozo, 1964 Proceedings, Am. Soc. of Int. Law 50, 53, and note 45 below; Archibald King, “Sitting in Judgment on the Acts of Another Government,” 42 A.J.I.L. 811, 822 ff. (1948). Richard Falk (loc. cit. note 17 above) recognizes some exceptions, and approves the flexibility of the Supreme Court's opinion in Sabbatino, but regrets the Court's emphasis upon its subordination to the policy of the Department of State. In the Interhandel case (note 30 above) the United States denied the jurisdiction not only of the Swiss court but also of the International Court of Justice to question its confiscatory act of state. Clearly an international court is not so limited. In the Tinoco Arbitration (Great Britain v. Costa Rica), 18 A.J.I.L. 147 (1924), the arbitrator (Chief Justice Taft), while holding Costa Rica generally bound by the acts of the de facto Tinoco government, held it was not responsible when these acts violated the Costa Rican Constitution in force during the Tinoco regime.

44 See Lauterpacht and Baade (notes 10 and 35 above).

45 Sabbatino, note 25 above. Michael Cardozo, while generally urging “Judicial Deference to State Department Suggestions” (48 Cornell Law Quarterly 461 (1963)), believes that American courts should follow the act of state doctrine unless there is clear evidence of a different executive policy (p. 478). The amendment to the U. S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1964 (Oct. 7, 1964, 78 Stat. 1009, below, p. 380), declares,on the other hand, that, unless the President intervenes, the courts should decline to observe the act of state doctrine in regard to foreign confiscations from Jan. 1, 1959, to Jan. 1, 1966.

46 The lower courts in Sabbatino, White, J. dissenting in Sabbatino, Domke, Stevenson, Hyde, New York City Bar Association (notes 1, 27, 35, 40 above), John 6. Laylin and Myres S. McDougal, 1964 Proceedings, American Society of International Law 33 ff., 57. Baade, who regards the matter as one of private international law, believes that in the absence of an explicit treaty, there is no standard of international law concerning the validity of expropriations. The only obligation is that of adequate compensation (loc. cit. note 35 above, p. 830).

47 British Court of Chancery, note 37 above.

48 Beeves, loc. cit. note 36 above.

49 See note 33 above, and Beeves, loc.cit. 146 ff.

50 Baade, loo. cit. 807, note 35 above. See also notes 4, 8, 9, above, and Beeves, loc. cit. 354 ff.

51 Falk (loc. cit. 948, 951, note 17 above) points out that in the decentralized state of international society, “vertical” controls of states are weak and consequently “horizontal “ forces of international order must be recognized, implying “dependence of international society upon patterns of mutual respect for territorial law.“

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