Tyre Shipping Company v Attorney-General

CourtAdmiralty Court (Israel)
Docket NumberCase No. 25
Israel, Admiralty Court.

(Dunkelblum and Cheshin JJ. and Mr. Zukerman.)

Case No. 25
Tyre Shipping Co. Ltd.

State Succession — Continuation of Law — Repeal of Former Legislation — Effect upon Confiscation of Property in Pursuance of such Legislation — The Mandate for Palestine.

The Facts.—On March 8, 1947, the s.s. Ben Hecht, flying the Honduran flag, was seized by a British naval vessel within the territorial waters of Palestine. On board were some six hundred “illegal” immigrants, that is to say, Jews who were not in possession of valid entry documents into Palestine. On March 9, 1947, the vessel was brought into the port of Haifa, its crew were placed under arrest, and the passengers transported in British bottoms to Cyprus. After negotiations with the authorities, the crew were released and returned to America. The vessel herself was confiscated by the authorities in April 1947, the confiscation being confirmed, on December 3, by the Haifa District Court, under section 12 of the Immigration Ordinance, 1941, as amended by Regulation 107 of the Defence (Emergency) Regulations, 1945.

On the termination of the Mandate for Palestine (May 15, 1948) the vessel was lying at Haifa. On July 15, 1948, the Requisitioning Officer of the Israel Defence Forces purported to requisition the said ship by serving a requisition notice on the lawyer who was then representing the Tyre Shipping Company, the plaintiffs in the present case. The said company claimed to be the owners of the vessel before confiscation. In compliance with the requisition order, the vessel was forthwith handed over to the competent authorities, and a receipt was given in due course. Negotiations followed regarding appraisal of the vessel and the payment of compensation, under the Defence (Compensation) Ordinance, 1940, but when these negotiations broke down legal proceedings were brought in the Admiralty Court. In the course of these proceedings it was argued that not the Plaintiffs but the Government of Israel were the owners of the vessel—on the basis of the earlier decision of the Haifa District Court.

Immediately after the establishment of the State of Israel, it was enacted that “Sections 13 to 15 of the Immigration Ordinance, 1941, and Regulation 102–107 C of the Defence (Emergency) Regulations, 1945, are hereby repealed. Any Jew who at any time entered Palestine in contravention of the laws of the Mandatory Government shall, for all intents and purposes, be deemed to...

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