- Project Runeberg -  A practical guide for Russian consular officers and all persons having relations with Russia /

(1916) Author: Alfons Heyking - Tema: Russia
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with Great

parties remain in the State where the contract was lawfully concluded
or whether they happen to enter the territory of another State.

Articles signed in Russia by the crew of a Russian vessel cannot
lose their validity through the ship being in a port of the United
Kingdom. It was nothing short of a violation of international law
that a Scottish Sheriff arrested a Russian ship on behalf of certain of
her crew who, having deserted, claimed wages which they had forfeited
by their action.1 It would seem, therefore, to be in the interests of
international shipping that Great Britain should renounce the obsolete
pretension to the right of interfering at her pleasure in the internal
affairs of foreign ships and should leave it to the foreign Consular
Officers concerned to deal with such matters, recognising them as the
only competent judges in all that relates to the discipline and internal
economy of the ships of their nationality in accordance with
international law. The adoption of such a course by Great Britain would
be the more advisable, as British Law Courts regard cases of desertion
from foreign ships as not coming within their jurisdiction. If the
breach of the internal order of a foreign ship by desertion is considered
outside the competency of the local courts of justice, it would be only
consistent that all cases connected with that order should be treated

The reasons which have induced the Continental Powers of Europe
to regulate by mutual agreement the legal status of their Consular
Officers apply equally to this country. It is obvious that it would be
to the advantage of both sides to strengthen the official position of
foreign Consular Officers in Great Britain. The old principle of absolute
territorial sovereignty, which does not admit of the exercise, in any
form, of the jurisdiction of a foreign State within the limits of the home
State, has become incompatible with the requirements of modern
intercourse amongst civilised nations. Great Britain has already
infringed the principle of absolute sovereignty by the Statute of Oueen
Anne of 1709,2 which assures to foreign diplomats the unlimited exercise
of their duties by granting them the privilege of exterritoriality. She
was induced to do so by the requirements of the international
community of the civilised States of the world. The same reason calls for
the recognition, by international agreement, of a Consular legal status.
Of course it would hardly be possible to grant such privileges to
Consular Officers who are the subjects of the State in which they fulfil their
functions. A Consular State Treaty which would determine the
competency of foreign Consuls and formulate their legal status would
therefore not introduce a new principle in the Consular regulations of Great
Britain with other States, but would only make the Consuls better able
to serve the interests of their own nationality as well as those of the
place of their residence. The Consular Conventions which it is
suggested should be concluded between Great Britain and other
States should incorporate the stipulations of the like Consular
Conventions concluded by Russia with France, Germany, Italy and
with Spain, with the exception of those stipulations referring to

1 The particulars of this case are quoted at length in § 268.

2 7 Anne c. 12.

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