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SIMEON E. BALDWIN,
DIRECTOR OF THE BUREAU OF COMPARATIVE LAW.
The growing interest in Comparative Law in the United States is the frequent subject of observation in other countries. In the number of Revista General de Legislación y Jurisprudencia of Madrid, for December, 1914, it is remarked that the principal center of the impulse in that direction is this Bureau. It may be noted that of the 20 pages of this number of the Revista, 11 are devoted to the consideration of recent American publications on Comparative Law.
The legislation of the past year in Europe has been of less than usual volume, but more than usual importance.
UNWRITTEN CONSTITUTIONS IN TIME OF WAR. The rapid and decisive manner in which private rights are there varied to meet exigencies created by war reminds us that written constitutions of government are not elements of strength when military activity becomes the main object of concern.
Great Britain found no difficulty in obtaining parliamentary authority (there the highest form of law), for seizing and operating any manufactories which the government might deem it necessary to appropriate for the better production of war material, and for virtually subjecting her people to service in such establishments, under stringent conditions. Under her “Defence of the Realm Act," an Order in Council was issued July 6, 1915, taking over the control of the sale and supply of intoxicating liquors in the principal districts, where such material is either being manufactured or shipped.
In May, 1915, the government requisitioned the entire supplies of meat from Australia and New Zealand, and the President of the Board of Trade announced to the House of Commons that what was not needed for the army and navy would be marketed in such a way as to benefit private consumers by preventing any such increase in price as might otherwise result from a shortage of imports. At the request of the ministry, the Dominion of Canada, at the same time, laid an embargo on the shipment of most agricultural products to this country, except for our own domestic consumption.
Germany, on January 21, 1915, took still more drastic action by confiscating provisions, and 10 days later commandeered all considerable stocks of copper, tin, aluminum, antimony and hard lead. They are to be inventoried and sequestered for war use, but may be re-delivered, under strict limitations, to their former owners, for employment in manufacture of war material, or when absolutely necessary for the improvement or maintenance of their business or that of others.
Orders having the force of “stay-laws” with respect to suits on commercial paper have been issued by France, Germany and Belgium. That of Belgium is for the benefit only of residents in its territory now occupied by Germany.
Great Britain, by an Order in Council first made public in March, 1915, changing Rule 28 of her Prize Court, gave authority for requisitioning any neutral ship within her waters.
Since the promulgation of the German orders for the regulation of Belgium, described in the July number of the American Bar Association Journal, another measure of prime importance has been added. Belgium, previous to its military occupation, had taken steps towards the establishment of a system of compulsory education in public schools. This Germany has now actually done, requiring the attendance of all children not less than 6 years of age. Teachers, directors or inspectors who permit, further or bring about anti-German acts or statements in the course of the school exercises, may be prosecuted before a court martial and punished by not exceeding a year's imprisonment.
An order issued July 9, 1915, forbids, under a heavy penalty, any Belgian between the ages of 16 and 40 to leave the state in order to take service under the government of any country at war with Germany.
In the same month Denmark passed a statute giving the minister of justice discretionary power to prevent the publication of newspaper comments reflecting unfavorably on acts of friendly
powers, during the present wars. The penalties for any transgression will be inflicted by special government tribunals, as a matter of administrative law.
TREATIES. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has decided to compile and publish a collection of the provisions of all treaties, heretofore made between any countries, containing agreements upon matters which, if universally assented to, would constitute international law.
In April, 1915, Viscount Bryce, formerly British Ambassador at Washington, was appointed to represent Great Britain on the commission to which, under the Anglo-American treaty of 1914, any issues between the two countries which might not yield to diplomatic adjustment would be submitted.
The Government of Venezuela has ratified a convention agreed on by Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela, published in the Gaceta Oficial of March 5, 1915, concerning patents and trade-marks. It provides that whoever first obtains a patent or trade-mark in any one of the signatory states shall enjoy the rights of an inventor in the other states signing the convention, if within the maximum term of two years he registers his patent or trade-mark in the form prescribed by the laws of the country in which he desires protection. This being done, the duration of the patent or trade-mark is for such a term of years as may be fixed by the laws of the different signatory countries respectively. The application of improved methods, with the object of obtaining better results, is to be considered a new invention or discovery.
In order to supplement the Hague Convention as to the rules of naval warfare, Congress passed, last spring, a statute (approved March 4, 1915) to prevent the United States from being used by a belligerent as a base of military operations. This authorizes the President, in time of war, to withhold clearance from any vessel which he has reasonable cause to believe to be about to carry men or supplies to any warship, tender or supply-ship of any belligerent power, in violation of the obligations of the United States as a neutral nation.
The mixed court in Egypt came practically to an end in January, 1915, in consequence of the war. It was then prorogued
until February 1, 1916, and the appointments of the German and Austrian judges were not renewed.
The convention of Berne, adopted by 14 European powers ad referendum, in 1906, to restrict the hours of labor of women and children, was by its terms to go into effect when ratified " by all the governments of the contracting parties.” The Italian parliament gave the government of the King authority to execute the convention“ fully and entirely.” Two of the signatory powers did not ratify it.
One of its provisions gave a penal sanction, and an employer was prosecuted under it in the Italian courts. They decided (the Court of Cassation in Rome, First Section, reported in La Giustizia Penale, II, 84, July 22, 1914) that the convention was not in force, the ratification of every one of the 14 powers being indispensable, and the Act of Parliament not varying this condition, but simply authorizing a ratification subject to that provision.
It is gratifying to observe the marked influence of the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 on the proceedings of the nations which were parties to them, during the present European wars.
Germany, for instance, in exercising her military authority in Belgium, by an official notification of November 12, 1914, which directs the mode of collecting the revenues, customs and taxes, sets forth that this is ordered in accordance with Article 48 of the Hague Convention of 1907, respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land.
So in her note of March 14, 1915, written just before the sinking of the Lusitania, Germany stated to our government that if any neutral ship should come to harm through submarines or air craft and the claim be made that the injury was done by those in the German service, she would, if she denied her responsibility, unite in allowing the facts, so far as they were in dispute, bearing on the claim, to be decided by an international commission of inquiry, under Part III, of the Hague Convention of 1907, for the “ Pacific Settlement of International Disputes."
The international convention for promoting the safety of life at sea, agreed to by 13 powers in January, 1914, failed of ratification in consequence of the wars in Europe. December 31, 1914 was the last day for exchanging ratifications, which was to be
done at London. Great Britain adopted the regulations recommended, on August 10, 1914, to go into effect July 1, 1915.
INTERNATIONAL CONGRESSES. The last important international congress held before the breaking out of the European wars was the Sixth International Congress of Chambers of Commerce. This came together in Paris in June, 1914. It voted in favor of organizing in every country tribunals of arbitration to decide commercial questions between citizens of different nations.
RIGHTS OF ALIENS. The Supreme Court of the United States · has decided that under the Federal Employers' Liability Act, relatives can sue for damages from the death of an employee, although they may be aliens."
The Supreme Court of Iowa has held that the statute of that state, taxing aliens on inheritances fourfold as much as citizens, is not a violation of our treaty with Sweden, negotiated in 1783 and since renewed. That provides that Swedes living in any state may freely dispose of their property by will or otherwise, and their heirs shall receive the succession “even ab intestato," “these inheritances” to be exempted from all duty called “ droit de détraction.” The court took the ground that, if the treaty applied to inheritances by aliens from citizens, it was not intended to cover a tax for the privilege of succession."
A law of Arizona, commonly known as the “Anti-Alien Employment Act," adopted by a large majority at the state election in November, 1914, as an initiative measure, provides that whenever any person or corporation statedly employs more than five persons, not less than 80% shall be American citizens. The British and Italian Ambassadors at Washington promptly filed protests against the measure. The United States District Court, in January, 1915, held it to be unconstitutional, as depriving aliens of a right to labor guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amend
* McGovern vs. Philadelphia & Reading R. R. Co., 235 U. S., 389.
* In re Peterson's Estate, Iowa, —; 151 Northwestern Rep.. 66.