Attorney-General of New Zealand v Ortiz: HL 3 Jan 1983

The Attorney General had sought the return of a valuable Maori carving which had been illegally exported from New Zealand and was to be sold by the defendant. He appealed against a finding that the provision (s12 Historical Articles Act 1962 of New Zealand) was a foreign penal one and as such was unenforceable in England.
Held: The appeal failed. The Act contained no provision to forfeit illegally exported articles automatically. There had been no act of seizure and therefore the Crown had no title to the carving.
Denning MR discussed the rule that a court of one jurisdiction will not enforce the penal laws of another jurisdiction: ‘No one has ever doubted that our courts will not entertain a suit brought by a foreign sovereign, directly or indirectly, to enforce the penal or revenue laws of that foreign state. We do not sit to collect taxes for another country or to inflict punishments for it.’


[1984] AC 1, [1983] 2 All ER 93, [1983] 2 WLR 809


England and Wales


At First InstanceAttorney-General of New Zealand v Ortiz ChD 1984
The New Zealand government sought the return of a Maori carving which had been bought by the defendant after it had been illegally exported from New Zealand. The defendant replied that an English court should not itself enforce a foreign penal . .
Appeal fromAttorney-General of New Zealand v Ortiz CA 2-Jan-1982
The defendant was to sell a Maori carving which had been unlawfully exported from New Zealand. The Attorney General sought its recovery and an injunction to prevent its sale, relying on the Historical Articles Act 1962. The judge had ordered its . .

Cited by:

CitedMbasogo, President of the State of Equatorial Guinea and Another v Logo Ltd and others CA 23-Oct-2006
Foreign Public Law Not Enforceable Here
The claimant alleged a conspiracy by the defendants for his overthrow by means of a private coup d’etat. The defendants denied that the court had jurisdiction. The claimants appealed dismissal of their claim to damages.
Held: The claims were . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 01 May 2022; Ref: scu.245566