Fri, Dec. 05, 2003

Supreme Court Disallows Foreclosure into Diplomatic Real Estate

JN - Recklinghausen.   Real estate owned by a foreign sovereign and used solely for diplomatic purposes enjoys protection under German law. In a recent decision (BGHR 03, 1041), the German Supreme Court in Civil Matters (Bundesgerichtshof - BGH) prevented such property from going into foreclosure. The question whether such real estate is governed by German law or not is a matter of international law, according to Art. 25 Grundgesetz (Constitution - GG) and § 20 Abs. 2 Gerichtsverfassungsgesetz (Constitution of the Courts - GVG). Under the principles of international law adapted into German law, it is not generally undue that a foreign sovereign's property may become subject foreclosure, as the German Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht - BVerfG) stated in the matters BVerfGE 46, 342, 388, 392; 64, 1, 23, 40. But there is an international principle according to which property situated in Germany may not be executed into without the express consent of the foreign state, provided the property is being used chiefly for political or diplomatic purposes.

Because of the obvious difficulties in determining the property's main purpose, international law requires the broad application of this rule. Therefore, any property used for consular or diplomatic missions is inviolable. This includes an embassy's real estate (Art. 22 ff. of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations; Art. 31 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations), the court confirmed.

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