CE, Ass., 30 mars 1966, p. 257 Case Compagnie générale d'énergie radio-électrique
30 March 1966
Translated by:
Professor Bernard Rudden
Professor B. S. Markesinis

Conseil d’Etat

Application of the Compagnie générale d’énergie radio-électrique for the annulment: (1) of the preliminary ruling of the Paris Administrative Tribunal dated 26 March 1958; (2) of the decision of the same tribunal dated 6 January 1960 rejecting the applicant society’s request directed to the annulment of the decision of 4 October 1950 whereby the Prefect of Seine rejected its claim for compensation for the requisition by the enemy of the Paris Post Office, and to the State’s being ordered to pay the compensation sought;

Having seen the Act of 30 April 1946; The Hague Convention of 18 October 1907 published under the Decree of 2 December 1910; the Final Act of the Paris Conference of 14 January 1946 published under the Decree of 5 March 1946; the London Accord of 27 February 1953 published under the Decree of 10 October 1953; the Ordinance of 31 July 1945 and the Decree of 30 September 1953;

Considering that in order to claim compensation from the French State for the damage corresponding both to the ouster from occupation of the premises requisitioned by the army of occupation and for the loss of business relating to that requisition, the Compagnie générale d’énergie radio-électrique bases its claim primarily on the provisions of the Act of 30 April 1946 concerning claims arising from German requisitioning relating to quartering and billeting;

Considering that by the terms of the said Act ‘the Prefect decides claims involving assessment of compensation for requisitions carried out to effect the quartering and billeting of German troops’;

that it follows from the very terms of the said article that the Act in question imputes to the French State compensation only for requisitions imposed to meet the needs of quartering and billeting German troops; that it is agreed that this was not the purpose of the 1940 requisition by the occupying power of the premises and equipment of the radio station ‘Parisian Post’ owned by the Compagnie générale d’énergie radio-électrique; that it follows that the applicant company derives from the Act of 30 April 1946 no right to compensation from the French State;

Considering secondly that by the terms of article 53 of the annex to the Hague Convention of 18 October 1907 on the laws and customs of war on land ‘all terrestrial means of transmitting news may be seized, even if belonging to private persons, but must be restored with compensation as determined in peace-time’; that the applicant company maintains that the terms of exercise of its right to the credit against the occupying power recognized by the cited article 53 have been altered to its detriment by the accord on German reparations and the setting up of an Allied reparations agency signed at Paris on 14 January 1946 and especially by the agreement on German foreign debts signed in London on 27 February 1953 between the allied governments and the Federal Republic of Germany, whose article 5 paragraph 2 postpones ‘until definite settlement of the reparations question any examination of second world war claims of countries which had been at war with or occupied by Germany and of the inhabitants of these countries as regards the Reich’; that as a result the said company claims to have the right to payment of compensation by the French State for the damage resulting from the breach in the principle of equality before public burdens which the French government’s signature of international accords hindering or delaying the settlement of its claim entailed for it;

Considering that, under the principle of the equality of citizens before public burdens, the State can be held liable to ensure reparation for losses born of agreements concluded by France with other states and formally incorporated into the municipal legal order, on condition first that neither the convention itself nor the Act which in due course authorizes its ratification can be interpreted as having intended to exclude all compensation and secondly that the loss for which compensation is sought is of a sufficient gravity and special character;

Considering that it emerges from the investigation that this last condition is not met in this case; that having regard to the general nature of the above-mentioned accords and of the number of French citizens victims of damage similar to that alleged by the applicant company, this last cannot be seen as being of so special a type as to involve the state’s liability without fault to the said company;

Considering that it emerges from the foregoing that the applicant company is not entitled to maintain that the Administrative Tribunal was wrong in rejecting its claim for compensation in the challenged decisions (Rejected with costs)

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