Barcelona Traction, Light and Power Company, Limited (Belgium v. Spain) (New Application: 1962)
OVERVIEW OF THE CASE
Belgium had ceased pursuing the aforementioned case on account of efforts to negotiate a friendly settlement. The negotiations broke down, however, and Belgium filed a new Application on 19 June 1962. The following March, Spain filed four preliminary objections to the Court’s jurisdiction, and on 24 July 1964 the Court delivered a Judgment dismissing the first two but joining the others to the merits. After the filing, within the time-limits requested by the Parties, of the pleadings on the merits and on the objections joined thereto, hearings were held from 15 April to 22 July 1969. Belgium sought compensation for the damage claimed to have been caused to its nationals, shareholders in the Barcelona Traction, Light and Power Company, Ltd., as the result of acts contrary to international law said to have been committed by organs of the Spanish State. Spain, on the other hand, submitted that the Belgian claim should be declared inadmissible or unfounded. In a Judgment delivered on 5 February 1970, the Court found that Belgium had no legal standing to exercise diplomatic protection of shareholders in a Canadian company in respect of measures taken against that company in Spain. It also pointed out that the adoption of the theory of diplomatic protection of shareholders as such would open the door to competing claims on the part of different States, which could create an atmosphere of insecurity in international economic relations. Accordingly, and in so far as the company’s national State (Canada) was able to act, the Court was not of the opinion that jus standi was conferred on the Belgian Government by considerations of equity. The Court accordingly rejected Belgium’s claim.
This overview is provided for information only and in no way involves the responsibility of the Court.