Attorney-General v Levitan

CourtSupreme Court (Israel)
Docket NumberCase No. 28
Date03 May 1954
Israel, Tel Aviv District Court.
Supreme Court sitting as Court of Civil Appeals.
Case No. 28

State Succession — Succession to Rights — Executors' Bond in Favour of Former Sovereign — Right of Subsequent Sovereign to Sue Thereon — The Law of Israel.

The Facts.—In this case the question at issue was simply whether the Attorney-General of Israel could sue on a bond previously given in favour of the Attorney-General of Palestine.

Held (by the District Court): that the question must be answered in the affirmative.

The Court said: “The Attorney-General does not rely on the plea that the Government of Israel is the successor of the Government of Palestine, but on section 21 of the Law and Administration Ordinance, 1948, by which taxes and payments of every kind whatsoever which had not been paid to the Government of Palestine by May 14, 1948, shall be paid to the Provisional Government of Israel [subsequently: Government of Israel]. … The difficulty that arises here is whether the sum claimed by the Attorney-General from the defendant is included in the category of ‘payments of every kind whatsoever’ within the meaning of section 21. Counsel for the defendant argues that it is not so for two reasons. First, the word ‘payments’ appearing together with the word ‘taxes’ has to be interpreted as referring to payments in the nature of taxes, such as rates of different kinds, or as payments for Government services and the like, but not as payments in respect of contractual obligations. Secondly, even if it is admitted that the word ‘payments’ also applies to sums due under contracts, nevertheless the expression ‘which had not yet been paid’ refers to liquidated sums due but not paid, and not to sums concerning which there is a dispute as to whether they are due at all.

“After considering this question I have formed the opinion that the expression ‘payments of every kind whatsoever’ is wider than Counsel for the defendant argues. The words ‘of every kind whatsoever’ mean simply what they say, and not only payments resembling taxes. But the real difficulty relates to the second argument. That is to say: would it not be proper to say that the intention here was to refer to sums which, during the period of the Mandate, were due for payment but which have not yet been paid? If it is assumed that such was the intention, then a further question will arise, namely, when and in what circumstances can it be said that the sum became liquidated and...

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