Case Brief: W.R Central Gold Company, Ltd. v. The King

West Rand Central Gold Mining Company Appellant


The King Respondent

Neutral Citation: – 1905, 2 King Bench 319

Facts about the case:-

West Rand Mining company was registered in England and was working in the Gold Mine of Transwal. Some officers of the South American Government, under the orders of the South African Government, took into their possession two parcels of the company. On 11th Oct, The Boar War started and in that war South Africa was defeated and England included in its empire. Thus, the British Government became the successor of the South African government, with the result that it become the successor of all the rights and duties of the South African Government and as the liability of returning the two gold parcels or making the payment of their price to the company was also shifted to British government.

Issues Related:-

  1. Petition of Right 
  2. International Law 
  3. Annexation 
  4. Liabilities of Conquered State 
  5. Creditor’s Rights against Conqueror 
  6. Act of State 
  7. Jurisdiction of Municipal Courts.

Judgement: –

The Bench said that the petition did not reveal the petitioner’s right to be enforced against His Majesty in any of the courts of justice of the peace. After the annexation of the conquered territories, there is no principle of international law that the conquering country is obliged to pay the financial obligations of the conquered country concluded before the outbreak, unless there is a clear provision of opposition war.

Interpretation / Analysis: –

In this case, the Attorney General, on behalf of the King, rejected the legal application filed by Westland Central Gold Mining Company Limited in June 1904. The petition of right claimed that two packages of gold totalling £ 3,804 were seized by South African authorities-£ 1,104. Transporting from Johannesburg to Cape Town and 2700 litres on October 2nd. On October 9, I was taken to the petitioner’s bank office.

No further details were given in the petition, due to the circumstances in which the Government of the Republic of Transvaal claimed to have confiscated the gold, or any rights.

However, paragraph 6 states: The above money or its value will be returned to the complainant. The money has not been returned to your petitioner and the government has not paid for it. The petition then conquered the Republic at 5 pm, and by a declaration dated September 1, 1900 the Republic was annexed to His Majesty’s territory, became part of it, and the Government of the Republic disappeared.

The petition then claimed that by conquest and annexation, His Majesty had acquired sovereignty over the Republic of Transvaal and ownership of its property. And the duty given to the government was to detain the current Majesty the King.

The bench then stated that, before moving on to the previously debated questions of law, we think it is fair to say that we should not be seen as agreeing with the view that the allegations in the application reveal an enough to mitigate. To us, the request seemed admissible as it did not represent any contractual obligations on the part of Transvaal’s government. For all that appears in the petition, the arrest is likely an act of lawless violence.

Allegations that A. has appropriated property belongs to B., and thus the law has created an obligation on A. to restore B.’s assets or to pay their value, can reasonably be taken against any unlawful seizure of A.’s property. cause of action if something that other is added without being specified. According to all good principles of defence, it is necessary to demonstrate what should, not what could, be the cause of action, and unless the obligation alleged herein arises in contract, it is clear that no rights petitions can be upheld.

Lord Robert Cecil argued that all contractual obligations performed by a conquered nation, before the actual war broke out, were incorporated into the conqueror, regardless of their nature, characteristics, their origin or history.

It could not do otherwise, for it is clear that if a distinction is to be made, it must be based on grounds that do not remove the original liability, the character of which is a legal obligation to the defeated State, which renders it no longer valid. suitable for conquest. state. the state adopts this responsibility against it; in other words, on a moral basis, which goes into considerations of right, greatness, wisdom, public duty, political in short, in the broadest and broadest sense of the word. It is clear that these are matters that the city courts have nothing to do with.

They exist for the purpose of defining and enforcing legal obligations, not for the purpose of dividing them into categories and stating that some of them, although legally binding, should not be executed. The general proposition thus forming the basis of Lord Robert Cecil’s argument almost speaks for itself, since there must always be contracts signed by states prior to conquest, such as not a single conqueror. Conquer any dream of realizing them.

A few illustrations will appear during our next review. We will now pursue Lord Robert’s argument in more detail. Its main proposition is divided into three ends. First, under international law, the sovereignty of a conquering state is responsible for the obligations of the defeated state; second, international law that is part of British law; and third, the rights and obligations imposed upon the Conquered State, must be protected and enforceable by the municipal courts of the Conquered State.

Remember that the obligations of the conquering nation in relation to the private property of an individual, especially the land whose ownership has already been completed prior to the conquest or annexation, are quite different from the obligations that arise in connection with the following individual rights: It will not be. Treaty.

As stated in multiple cases, the transfer of a territory does not imply the confiscation of personal property within that territory. If a particular property is transferred to an individual owner, mortgaged, or a lien is created on it, the contractual obligation of the conquered country to the individual is conquered.

The UK lawsuit on which it relied was US vs. Priolo 57, and the US government alleged cotton owned by the South Army.

Conclusion: –

There is no principle of international law by which, after annexation of conquered territory, the conquering state becomes liable, in the absence of express stipulation to the contrary, to discharge financial liabilities of the conquered state incurred before the outbreak of war.

Some of the principles that were laid down were like, The British courts can make the international law applicable, if so needed and if the international law is enforceable in the reference. Another principle was that the conquering state is not bound for the duties and the liabilities of the conquered state, however, this rule has been modified to some extent now.

The Municipal court have no jurisdiction in the matters which can be decided by the emperor on the basis of the treaty. Such right cannot be propounded by National Courts.

References: –

  1. Judgment of Willes J. in the case of Gautret v. Egerton
  2. Mitchel v. United States
  3. Smith v. United States
  4. Strother v. Lucas. 
  5. Barbuit’s Case
  6. Triquet v. Bath
  7. Heathfield v. Chilton 

By: – Aayush Aman

Lloyd Law College

B.A.L.LB (2020-2025)



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