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Tinoco Claims Arbitration (Great Britain v. Costa Rica)

William H. Taft, Sole Arbitrator
1 U.N. Rep. Int’l Arb. Awards 369 (1923)


The “Tinoco regime” came to power through a coup in Costa Rica in 1917. It lasted for two years. During this time, the Tinoco regime was recognized as legitimate by some States, but not large powers such as Great Britain (plaintiff). During its time in power, the Tinoco regime entered into several contracts (including an oil concession) with the British government. When the regime fell in 1919, Great Britain brought suit against Costa Rica (defendant) to enforce the contracts and collect on the Tinoco regime’s liabilities. Costa Rica argued that the Tinoco regime was not a recognized government capable of entering into contracts on behalf of the State. Additionally, Costa Rica argued that since Great Britain itself did not recognize the Tinoco regime as a government, it could not claim that Tinoco conferred enforceable rights such as the oil concession on British citizens. In March 1923, the case was considered by an Arbitrator, United States Chief Justice William H. Taft.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Taft, J.)

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