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1 Legal Status (Personality), 1.3 Maclaine Watson & Co. Ltd v International Tin Council, 26 October 1989, United Kingdom House of Lords, 81 ILR 670

Paolo Palchetti

From: Judicial Decisions on the Law of International Organizations

Edited By: Cedric Ryngaert, Ige F Dekker, Ramses A Wessel, Jan Wouters

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 26 March 2023

Judges — Debts — Membership of international organizations — International organizations, practice and procedure — Responsibility of international organizations — Universal international organizations

This judgment constitutes one of the most authoritative precedents on the question concerning responsibility of members for acts of the organization. The House of Lords denied the existence of a rule of general international law according to which, in the absence of an express provision in the constitutive treaty excluding the responsibility of the members, they are responsible, jointly and severally, for the breach by the organization of its obligations to third parties. According to the House of Lords, the separate legal personality of an international organization precludes that the members can be held responsible, due to their membership, for the conduct of the organization. The judgment also addresses the question of whether the effects stemming from the possession of a separate legal personality have to be determined by reference to international law or by reference to the domestic law of the forum state.

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