123- Certain Properties (Liechtenstein vs Germany)
On June 1st, 2006, Liechtenstein filed an application instituting proceedings against Germany before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The dispute revolved around the issue of the application of the ”Benes Decrees”, which allowed Czechoslovakia to seize and confiscate certain properties of Liechtenstein nationals during world war II. Were particularly targeted items that belonged to Prince Franz Josef II of Liechtenstein, as well as a valuable painting by Pieter Van Laer.
The Liechtenstein authorities brought actions both before the German Courts and the European Court of Human Rights to try and recover the disputed property. All of its attempts having proved to be in vain, the Principality turned to the ICJ to settle this dispute and found the jurisdiction of the Court on the article 1 of the European Convention on the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes of April 29th, 1957, entered into force between the two countries on February 18th,1980. Germany raised six preliminary exceptions, two of which were considered by the ICJ:
- It initially argued that there was no dispute with Liechtenstein as Germany never changed its position regarding properties confiscated during WWII. This plea was not received by the Court for which there was indeed a dispute between the parties over the question of whether Germany had breached its international obligations towards Liechtenstein;
- Germany then contained that the ICJ lacked jurisdiction rationae temporis to hear this dispute under Article 27 a) of the European Convention insofar as the legal matter concerns facts that took place before February 18th, 1980, date where the instrument became applicable between the parties. Following consistent rulings in similar cases, the Court agreed with Germany and had to reject the application of Liechtenstein.
This summary is provided for informational purposes only, does not involve the responsibility of Dome and should in no way be used as a substitute for a careful reading of the judgment and order of the case.