British South Africa Company v Companhia de Mocambique: HL 1893

Two companies, one Portuguese, the other British and controlled by Cecil Rhodes, were in dispute about a large territory called Manica. The Portuguese company complained that they owned lands and mineral rights in Manica yet the British company had invaded the territory with a military force and seized the lands and minerals, doing injury to their business.
Held: The Portuguese company was not entitled to maintain its claims in the English courts, for that would be to try a question of title to foreign land. An English court does not have a general power to order the transfer of land abroad.
Lord Halsbury said that: ‘Rules of procedure and practice in England would not, I think, in the contemplation of any one, touch questions of territorial or international jurisdiction.’


Lord Halsbury


[1893] AC 602


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedTyburn Productions Ltd v Conan Doyle ChD 1990
The rule in ‘British South Africa’ extends also to intellectual property. The court was asked whether, many years after the death of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, there still existed copyrights or other intellectual property rights under the laws of the . .
CitedR Griggs Group Ltd and others v Evans and others (No 2) ChD 12-May-2004
A logo had been created for the claimants, by an independent sub-contractor. They sought assignment of their legal title, but, knowing of the claimant’s interest the copyright was assigned to a third party out of the jurisdiction. The claimant . .
CitedPearce v Ove Arup Partnership Ltd and others CA 21-Jan-1999
An English court does not have to refuse an application which sought to apply a foreign copyright law in a claim based on acts committed abroad on the basis that not actionable here. Such restrictions applicable to land actions only: ‘It is, we . .
CitedMasri v Consolidated Contractors International Co Sal and Others HL 30-Jul-2009
The claimant sought to enforce a judgment debt against a foreign resident company, and for this purpose to examine or have examined a director who lived abroad. The defendant said that the rules gave no such power and they did, the power was outside . .
CitedLucasfilm Ltd and Others v Ainsworth and Another CA 16-Dec-2009
The claimants had made several Star Wars films for which the defendants had designed various props items. The parties disputed ownership of the rights in the designs, and in articular of a stormtrooper helmet. The issues came down to whether the . .
CitedLucasfilm Ltd and Others v Ainsworth and Another SC 27-Jul-2011
The claimant had produced the Star War films which made use of props, in particular a ‘Stormtrooper’ helmet designed by the defendant. The defendant had then himself distributed models of the designs he had created. The appellant obtained judgment . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Land, Jurisdiction

Updated: 30 April 2022; Ref: scu.199470