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dr. Williamson to Nir. Fish.
UNITED STATES LEGATION AT CENTRAL AMERICA,
Guatemala, September 12, 1874. (Received Oct. 13.) Sir: I have the honor to send you herewith a translated copy of the answer received from Mr. Brioso, minister of foreign affairs of Salvador, in reply to the letter addressed him by me, of which a copy was attack. ed to my No. 209. No other answer has been received up to this date. I have, &c.,
Six SALVADOR, September 2, 1874. SIR: I have been much pleased at receiving your esteemed favor of the 11th of last August, and influenced by the importance of its object, I lasten to give you the information you ask.
We do not have special laws as to the manner of making reclamations against the government. When these are made by foreigners, after having tried ordinary means, before the common tribunals, they have recourse to the minister of foreigu affairs. In this office the necessary investigations are continued without any determined form. admitting every kind of evidence to obtain a conviction that the claim is good and just, or the contrary, and according to this result it is admitted or refused.
For natives there are no special laws. In particular cases, general directions are given for examining, liquidating, and paying the accounts against the government' caused by extortion, losses and damages caused in wars, and for resulting expenses for a small assembly that, with short sessions, and the assistance of an attorney who represents the interests of the nation, decides upon the legality or illegality of the claim. From this decision there is an appeal to the governinent, which decrees what it believes just, only reviewing the proceedings.
The persons, natives or foreigners, who have not been able to make good their claim for any reason, have recourse to the legislative body, which acts on it in the manner established for all business that it considers at the request of parties, and orders or refuses the payment of the claim in a resolution that is called an order, and that does not have the general character of law.
Foreigners in Salvador, resident or absent, have the right to be represented before the tribunals by attorneys, authorized by the court of justice to exercise these functions, and enjoy all the civil rights the natives possess. They can acquire property of all kinds and dispose of it by will or in any other legal manner.
I will not weary you with the form of diplomatic reclamations, for the principles oi international law are followed in these negotiations.
This is a compend of what is practiced. I hope I may have satisfied your wishes with this information, but if there is anything wanting I will take much pleasure in giving you the data you may be pleased to ask of me. lam, with much esteem, your obedient servant,
M. BRIOSA. Siñor Minister Don GEORGE WILLIAMSOX.
Nr. Russell to Mr. Fish.
September 21, 1874. SIR: I have the lovor to report, respectfully referring to Department circular of June 23, 1874, inquiring as to the mode of pursuing claims against this government:
1. Claims against government are not investigated or determined by its legislative branch, nor by the executive, but solely by the judiciary: viz, by the high federal court.
2. Citizens and aliens alike are allowed to sue the government in said court, which is a regularly-constituted tribunal having jurisdiction of other cases.
3. Aliens and citizens hare the same rights, whether as plaintiffs or as defendants in all the courts of the country, and this is true of suits in the high federal court against the government.
4. The equal right to sue citizens or the nation not only includes resident aliens; it applies as well to aliens non-resident.
5. The same system of adjudication exists in all classes of claims. The government has a double security as to evidence in its behalf: (1,) the representative of the treasury must always be notified of the prosecution of a claim; (2) the judges are authorized to direct the production of any evidence which they regard as proper, of their own notion. Thus they are, to a certain extent, guardians of the rights of the public.
I give the law as it exists in theory and on the statute-book. As to its practical working, it is difficult to obtain trustworthy information.
Of course, the decree of the high federal court does not execute itself. Legislation is needed to provide funds to satisfy judgment. And it is well known that Venezuela is deeply indebted and unable to pay her debts.
My information as to the law is derived in part from Dr. J. M. Blanco, who was, when he wrote, acting minister of foreign relations, and who has also been an eminent judge. His letter, A, with a translation, B, is annexed. I also annex the constitutional clause, C, with translation, D, giving to the bigh federal court jurisdiction of suits against the nation; also, the decree or law, E, with translation, F, regulating the prosecution of claims against the nation. E is a printed copy from an official publication, being No. 549 of the “Cuenta,” or report of General Guzman Blanco. Said Cuenta was sent to the Department by General Pile, with his No. 80, May 7, 1873. Some of its provisions have been discussed by the two governments. I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
THOMAS RUSSELL. llon. HAMILTON FISHI,
Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.
l Inclosure 1.)
CARÍCAS, September 10, 1874. Gratifying in part the wishes expressed by your excellency in your note of August 8 last, I have tbe honor to state to your excellency that in the official gazette No. 48, of which I send a copy to the legation which is in your worthy charge, with date of February 22, 1873, will be found inserted the law of the 14th of said month and year, upon claims of citizens and aliens on the nation. This law, as your excellency will see, gives to the high federal court the cognizance of the matter, and establishes the mode of proceeding when such claims are to be commenced.
The high federal court is, moreover, the only tribunal competent in any case, in which the nation may be sned, in conformity with No. 6, article 89, of the constitution, and as aliens share in the republic the same civil rights with Venezuelans, the former and latter with equality of conditions can be actors against the government before the aforesaid body.
As for lawsuits between private parties they are carried on and decided by the ordinary courts respectively, and in such trials aliens, domiciled or transient, can be plaintiffs or defendants, since, as has been heretofore set forth, they share the same civil rights with Venezuelans.
Concerning the remaining questions contained in the paper inclosed by your excellency in the note to which I have replied, I will give the necessary instructions in order to furnish your excellency with the desired answer. I take, with pleasuire, &c.,
JESUS MA. BLANCO.
Claus in the constitution of l'encrucla giving jurisdiction of clains to the high federal court.
ART. 89. The subjects of jurisdiction of the high federal court are 6. To take cognizance of civil suits, when the nation is sued, and the law prescribes it
(Inclosure 3.- Translation.]
ARTICLE 1. Those who make claims against the nation, wliether citizens or aliens, because of wrongs, injuries, or spoliation, on account of the acts of officers, national or of the States, whether in war, civil or national, or in time of peace, shall do so in the way which this law prescribes.
ART. 2. The claim shall be made by formal demand before the high federal court.
ART. 3. In these suits there shall be cited, besides the representative of the nation, the officer to whom the acts are imputed and the State to which said officer belongs, if such shall be the case.
ART. 4. Before trial of the claim the court shall pulilish in some newspaper, and at the cost of the plaintiff, an abstract of the claim in which shall be set forth the acts and other grounds on which the suit is founded, the name, surname, residence, and occupation of the demandant, anıl the sum demanded. This abstract shall be subscriberl by the clerk of the court.
ART. 5. In these trials testimony aliunde shall not be admitted, except in case of its being
shown that the officer who caused the wrong or spoliation has refused to give the proper proof in writing, or unless it appears in an evident manner, from the nature and circumstances of the case, that it was wholly impossible to obtain that proof.
ART. 6. The tribunal may direct that any evidence shall be furnished which it believes will lead to the discovery of the truth, whether at tbe request of the parties, or of any other person whatever, or officially [of its owu motion.]
ART. 7. The nation shall have the right of re-imbursing itself through the responsible officer or through the State to which said officer belonged at the time of the wrong, for the sum which the national treasury expends by virtue of the condemnatory sen
ART. E. Whoever appears manifestly to have exaggerated the amount of the injuries which he claims to lave suffered, shall lose whatever right he might have had, and shall incur a fine of five hundred to three thousand venezolanos, or imprisonment from three to twelve months. If it appears that the claim is wholly false, the guilty party shall incur a fine of one thousand to five thousand venezolanos, or imprisonment from six to twenty-four months.
ART. I. In no case shall it be pretended that the nation or the States shall pay for wrongs, injuries, or spoliations which were not done by the legitimate authorities acting in their public cliaracter,
ART. 10. The action to claim wrongs, injuries, or spoliations of which this law speaks is barred in two years.
ART. 11. All those who without public character decree contributions or forced loans, or direct acts of spoliation of whatever nature, as well as the executors, (or actor-,) shall be responsible directly and personally with their estates for the damage.
ART. 12. In these suits the law shall be followed which directs the proceedings of the high federal court.
ART. 13. The law of March 6, 1854, as to the indemnification of aliens is repealed. Done at Caršícas, February 14, 1973. (Misprinted 16733.)
Ulr. Andreus to dr. Fish.
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, Stockholm, September 26, 1874. (Received October 16.) SIR: In reply to your letter of June 23, relative to the course pursued in Sweden and Norway in the investigation and determination of claims
against the state, whether held by citizens or aliens, I have the honor to inform you that I made inquiry of the matter through the foreign office by letter, of which a copy is inclosed, and have received an answer from the minister of foreign affairs and interim, inclosing a stateznent of the law of Sweden and of Norway; from which it appears that in each country private parties, whether citizens or aliens, and whether residing in or out of the country, can sne the government in the regularly-established tribunals, and that the government or state has no privilege in the courts beyond what is enjoyed by inilividuals. Also, that the rule appears to be one of common law; and, further, ihat the legislative department does not occupy itself in determining claims.
I have the honor to inclose a copy of the letter of the minister of foreign affairs of the 21st instant, with translation ; also, a copy of each statement, in Swedishi, accompanying bis letter, and translations of the
As the matter of execution of a judgment against the government was left to be implied in the statements from the foreign office, I have taken pains to inform myself from the best source on that point, and I have to inform you that, after an individual las obtained judgment in court against the state, he can, if it is necessary, on application to the chief executive officer of the proper county, procure such seizure and sale of the property of the state as will satisfy the execution. I do not find, however, that there has been any instance where execution has actually been taken out and served against the state. When judgment is obtained there is never delay in its satisfaction at the public treasury.
To show how firmly settled the principle and practice are in Sweden that the state may be brought into court to answer to the complaint of an individual, it may be stated that three hundred years ago, in the time of Gustavus I, and later, in the reign of Charles XII, both of which monarcbs exercised dictatorial power, the crown or government submitted to the judgments which private individuals obtained against it in the courts of justice.
Up to within a very recent period a suit against Sweden for a considerable claim, in which the city of Stettin was plaintiff, was pending in one of the courts of Stockholm. It seems to bave been pending about one hundred years, for what reason I know not, and was lately settled by the government paying the principal sum without interest.
In conformity with the same principle of liability, the Swedish law of 1830 made the state's bank liable to be sued by an individual.
There are two limitations to tbe government's liability to an action at law by an individual. The first is that any claim is barred unless action is brought within ten years from the date of its accruing. The second is that the government cannot be sued to recover back taxes which have been paid. I have, &c.,
C. C. ANDREWS.
(Inclosure 1 in No. 241.)
Mr. indreus to General Björnstjerna.
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,
Stockholm, July 15, 1874. SIR: We live in the United States, as you are probably aware, a national “ Court of Clainis," which sits in Washington, and is empowered to adjudicate upon claims against the United States growing out of contracts between private parties and the Government. But in respect to other claims against the Government, parties must have recourse to Congress by petition-a practice which imposes a great cleal of labor on this legislative department.
My Government now has in view the establishment of a system of procedure for the investigation and determination not only of claims of its own citizens against itself, but also the claims which the subjects or citizens of foreigu governments may wish to bring against it; and has instructed me to obtain exact information as to the course pursued by the governments of Sweden and Norway in the atljustment of claims of it similar character.
As the subject is important, and as it is but just the Swedish and Norwegian systems shall be presented in a proper light, I have felt that your excellency would peruit me to lay before yon, as I now have the honor to do, the inclosed two copies of inquiries which have been communicated to me by my government, and to request that the information called for under each may be furnished to me in respect to both Sweden and Norway; also, if practicable, that copies of legislative enactinents or executive regulations on which the adjudication of claims of either class is based in each of the United Kingdoms may accompany such information.
In expressing to your excellency the belief that my Government will cheerfully reciprocate the favor herein desireil, I seize the occasion to renew to you, sir, the assurances of iny most distinguished consideration.
C. C. ANDREWS. His Excellency General (). J. BJÖRNSTJERNI,
Vinister of State and Foreign Affair's.
(Inclosure 2 in Yo. 211.- Translation]
STOCKHOLM, September 21, 1874. Sir: In reply to your note of the 15th July last, I have the honor to transmit herewith a statement containing the information which you expressed a wish to obtain concerning the procedure followed in the United Kingdoms in regard to claims insti. tuted by individuals against the government. Please accept, sir, the assurances of my most distinguisheel consideration.
C. F. WERN. Mr. ANDREWS,
Minister Resident of the United States.
I Inclosure 3 in No. 211.-Translation.] The law of Sweden as to adjudication of claims, accompanying Jl. (.7'. Wrn's letten17.
September 21, 1874.
SWEDEN. According to the Swedish law, claims against the royal majesty and crown (the gove ernment) are not (as in the memorandum is required) examined and determined by the riksdag or legislative power, but are prosecuted and adjudicated upon under this same regulations as are provided for suits in general, namely, before and by the regularly-established courts of justice. The government enjoys in such case no other rights or privileges nor has other obligations than its adversary. The legal process and practice provided in the general laws obtain with equally binding force for both, and it is open to the inhabitants of the country as well as aliens, according to competency, by summons to institute and maintain suits against the government. Likewise, foreigners, without regard to whether they are or are not residing in Sweden, are as fully empowered as the country's own inhabitants to solicit the Swedislı courts of justice för the trial of their claims against Swedislı citizens,
(Inclosure 4 in No. 241.-Translation, Statement of the law of Norway on the adjudication of claims, accompanying Mr. C.Fillers
letter of september 21, 1874.
NORWAY. Answer to meni. ), 2. Private claims against the state are neither considered nor determined by the legislative power, which neither, in the event of their competency being acknowledged immediately, occupies itself with their satisfaction.
Answer to men. 3, 4. Such claims are presented before the authorized department of the government, which, when the matter gives occasion, procures closer information and testimony concerning the competency or validity of the claim in question, whereafter it acknowledges the same and does equity in respect thereof. In the law, how