Socobelge v Greece

CourtCivil Tribunal (Belgium)
Date30 avril 1951
Docket NumberCase No. 2
Belgium, Tribunal Civil de Bruxelles.
Case No. 2
Greek State.

Jurisdiction — Exemption from — Foreign States — Immunity from Execution — Economic Activities.

International Court of Justice — Judgments of — Execution of — Enforcement by Municipal Courts — The Law of Belgium.

International Law — Relation to Municipal Law — Authority of Judgment of Permanent Court of International Justice before a Municipal Court — Jurisdiction — Exemption from — Foreign States — Immunity from Execution — Economic Activities.

The Facts.—The plaintiff, a Belgian Company, had obtained garnishee orders attaching a number of debts owing to the Greek State with a view to satisfying a judgment debt owed to it by the Greek State under an Arbitral Award of July 25, 1936. The Greek State sought to have these orders set aside, on the grounds, first, of its immunity from execution, and, secondly, of the fact that the Arbitral Award had not obtained an exequatur in Belgium. With regard to the first argument, the plaintiff Company contended that the exemption claimed by the Greek State prejudiced local “economic independence”, particularly in view of the development of economic activity by States. With regard to the second argument, it advanced the contention that the Arbitral Award of 1936 had been confirmed in proceedings before the Permanent Court of International Justice in 1939 and that the decisions of that Court were binding in Belgium without exequatur, and sought on that basis to obtain payment of the attached sums to itself.

Held: that the garnishee orders were valid, but that payment to the plaintiff Company could not be ordered until it had received a judgment executory in Belgium. The Greek State was not entitled to immunity from execution with regard to its economic activities. On the other hand, the judgment of the Permanent Court of International Justice on which the plaintiff Company relied to obtain payment was not executory in Belgium. The Court said, in part:

“For the mere validation of garnishee orders it is not required that the judgment which it is sought to satisfy should previously have received an exequatur. On the other hand, the judgment creditor may when prohibiting garnishees from paying to the judgment debtor seek to have an order for payment to himself. … For this purpose the plaintiff Company claims that it has recovered judgment executory in Belgium, and that this judgment is constituted … by a decision of the Permanent Court of International Justice of June 15, 1939. …

“The plaintiff Company claims that that decision is binding in Belgium and exempt from the formality of exequatur. It must be noted, in the first instance, that the decision merely stated that in the view both of the Court and of the States before it, namely, Belgium and Greece, the Arbitral Award must be considered to be definitive and obligatory between the parties to the case. The Hague Court formally denied itself the right either to set aside or to confirm these awards. The importance of the decision in this dispute is accordingly diminished.

“The plaintiff Company claims that it cannot be conceived that a decision emanating from that International Court, which decides disputes between States, should require the exequatur of Belgian tribunals. De lege ferenda such an exemption from exequatur seems conceivable or even legitimate. However, at the...

Pour continuer la lecture


VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT