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The Case of the S.S. Lotus (France v. Turkey)

Permanent Court of International Justice
P.C.I.J. Series A No 10, ICGJ 248 (P.C.I.J. 1927)



In 1926, a French steamboat, the S.S. Lotus, collided with a Turkish steamboat, the Botz-Kourt. This resulted in the sinking of the Turkish boat and the death of eight Turkish nationals. Turkish authorities (plaintiffs) instituted criminal proceedings against the French officer on duty aboard the S.S. Lotus at the time of the collision, Lieutenant Demons (defendant). Demons objected on the ground that Turkey had no jurisdiction to bring charges. The Turkish court overruled this objection and sentenced Demons to a fine and imprisonment. The French government challenged the Turkish court’s action as a violation of international law. The two countries submitted their dispute to the Permanent Court of International Justice. The crux of the dispute was whether, under principles of international law, Turkey had jurisdiction to prosecute the case against Demons. This was based on Article 15 of the Convention of Lausanne of 1923, which provides that “all questions of jurisdiction as between Turkey and the other contracting parties shall be decided in accordance with the principles of international law.”

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Moore, J.)

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