chapter  5
41 Pages

The Personality of International Organisations in English Law

ByGeoffrey Marston

The Tin Council case was the first of three decisions in the English courts within the last ten years which have directed attention upon the legal status of international organisations in English law with an intensity not previously seen. During the nineteenth century, the United Kingdom became a member of a number of organisations established by inter-State or inter-Government agreements. These organisations, which included the Rhine and Danube river commissions and public utility bodies like the International Telegraphic Union and the Universal Postal Union, had their administrative headquarters outside the United Kingdom and the question whether they were entitled to legal personality in English law does not seem to have arisen for determination. So far, British executive and judicial practice was ambiguous on whether in English law an international organisation, established by treaty or otherwise, was more than a collectivity of its member States, and therefore possessed a separate legal personality of its own.