Re State of Norway’s Application (No 2): HL 1989

The government of Norway sought evidence here to support a claim for tax in Norway.
Held: The State of Norway’s application requesting the oral examination of two witnesses residing in England did not fall foul of the Revenue rule. A claim will not be enforced here, where the claimant is asserting a sovereign right or where the central interest of the claimant is governmental in nature, however, Lord Goff said: ‘It is of importance to observe that that rule is limited to cases of direct or indirect enforcement in this country of the revenue laws of a foreign state. It is plain that the present case is not concerned with the direct enforcement of the revenue laws of the State of Norway. Is it concerned with their indirect enforcement? I do not think so. It is stated in Dicey and Morris, at p. 103, that indirect enforcement occurs (1) where the foreign state (or its nominee) in form seeks a remedy which in substance is designed to give the foreign law extraterritorial effect, or (2) where a private party raises a defence based on the foreign law in order to vindicate or assert the right of the foreign state. I have been unable to discover any case of indirect enforcement which goes beyond these two propositions. Even so, since there is no authority directly in point to guide me, I have to consider whether a case such as the present should nevertheless be held to fall foul of the rule. For my part, I cannot see that it should. I cannot see any extraterritorial exercise of sovereign authority in seeking the assistance of the courts of this country in obtaining evidence which will be used for the enforcement of the revenue laws of Norway in Norway itself.’
Lord Goff discussed the phrase ‘civil or commercial matters’, and said of itsuse in the 1856 Act: ‘Here we find the first mention in an Act of Parliament, at least in this context, of the expression ‘civil or commercial matter.’ It is plain that here the word ‘matter’ is used as referring to the relevant proceedings; because in section 1 the ‘matter’ is required (consistently with the long title and section 2 of the Act) to be pending before the foreign court or tribunal. This reinforces the natural inference that, in section 1 of the Act, the expression ‘civil matter’ is being given no restricted meaning, and would be understood in this country as referring to civil, as opposed to criminal, proceedings. It is true that this gives no weight to the words ‘or commercial’ so far as the law of this country is concerned: but it is not surprising to find these words added in relation to a jurisdiction which will be invoked by courts or tribunals in foreign countries, many of which differentiate between civil and commercial matters.’


Lord Goff of Chieveley


[1990] 1 AC 723


Evidence (Proceedings in Other Jurisdictions) Act 1975, Foreign Tribunals Evidence Act 1856


England and Wales


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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 . .
Appeal fromRe State of Norway’s Application (No 2) CA 1988
The basic requirement for an issue estoppel to arise was that ‘the earlier determination relied on as raising an issue estoppel shall have been fundamental to the decision first arrived at’. The Board did not accept that an issue estoppel is . .

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.

Estoppel, International, Evidence

Updated: 14 June 2022; Ref: scu.245569