Lotus case

Lotus case

The "Lotus" case concerns a criminal trial which was the result of the August 02, 1926 collision between "S.S. Lotus", a French steamship (or steamer), and the "S.S. Boz-Kourt", a Turkish steamer, in a region just north of Mytilene. As a result of the accident, eight Turkish nationals aboard the "Boz-Kourt" drowned when the vessel was torn apart by the "Lotus".


On September 07, 1927, the case was presented before the Permanent Court of International Justice, the judicial branch of the League of Nations, the predecessor of the United Nations.

The issue at stake was Turkey's jurisdiction to try the French officer on watch duty at the time of the collision. Since the collision occurred on the high seas, France claimed that only the state whose flag the vessel flew had exclusive jurisdiction over the matter. France proffered case law, through which it attempted to show at least state practice in support of its position. However, those cases both involved ships that flew the flag of the flag state and were thus easily distinguishable. The Court, therefore, rejected France's position stating that there was no rule to that effect in international law.

"Lotus" principle

The "Lotus" principle or "Lotus" approach, usually considered a foundation of international law, says that sovereign states may act in any way they wish so long as they do not contravene an explicit prohibition. This principle – an outgrowth of the Lotus case – was later overruled by article 11 [ [http://sedac.ciesin.org/entri/texts/high.seas.1958.html Convention of the High Seas (1958)] ] of the 1958 High Seas Convention. The convention, held in Geneva, laid emphasis on the fact that only the flag state or the state of which the alleged offender was a national had jurisdiction over sailors regarding incidents occurring in high seas.

The principle has also been used in arguments [ [http://www.lcnp.org/global/ICC_USOPP.htm US Opposition to the International Criminal Court] ] by the United States of America, opposing the existence of the International Criminal Court (ICC).



* [http://www.worldcourts.com/pcij/eng/decisions/1927.09.07_lotus/ The Case of The S.S. Lotus] Document in PDF format includes information on Judgment.
* [http://www.icj-cij.org/pcij/serie_A/A_10/30_Lotus_Arret.pdf The Case of The S.S. Lotus] French version of document, interspersed with English translations

See also

* United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

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