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Brief Fact Summary.

Turkeys (D) assertion of jurisdiction over a French citizen who had been
the first officer of a ship that collided with a Turkish ship on the high seas was challenged by
France (P) as a violation of international law.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. A rule of international law, which prohibits a state from exercising
criminal jurisdiction over a foreign national who commits acts outside of the states national
jurisdiction, does not exist.
Facts. A collision occurred shortly before midnight on the 2nd of August 1926 between the
French (P) mail steamer Lotus and the Turkish (D) collier Boz-Kourt. The French mail steamer
was captained by a French citizen by the name Demons while the Turkish collier Boz-Kourt was
captained by Hassan Bey. The Turks lost eight men after their ship cut into two and sank as a
result
of
the
collision.
Although the Lotus did all it could do within its power to help the ship wrecked persons, it
continued on its course to Constantinople, where it arrived on August 3. On the 5th of August,
Lieutenant Demons was asked by the Turkish (D) authority to go ashore to give evidence. After
Demons was examined, he was placed under arrest without informing the French (P) ConsulGeneral and Hassan Bey. Demons were convicted by the Turkish (D) courts for negligence
conduct
in
allowing
the
accident
to
occur.
This basis was contended by Demons on the ground that the court lacked jurisdiction over him.
With this, both countries agreed to submit to the Permanent Court of International Justice, the
question of whether the exercise of Turkish (D) criminal jurisdiction over Demons for an
incident that occurred on the high seas contravened international law.

Issue. Issue: Does a rule of international law which prohibits a state from exercising criminal
jurisdiction over a foreign national who commits acts outside of the states national jurisdiction
exist?
Held. (Per curiam) No. A rule of international law, which prohibits a state from exercising
criminal jurisdiction over a foreign national who commits acts outside of the states national
jurisdiction, does not exist. Failing the existence of a permissive rule to the contrary is the first
and foremost restriction imposed by international law on a state and it may not exercise its power
in
any
form
in
the
territory
of
another
state.
This does not imply that international law prohibits a state from exercising jurisdiction in its own

territory, in respect of any case that relates to acts that have taken place abroad which it cannot
rely on some permissive rule of international law. In this situation, it is impossible to hold that
there is a rule of international law that prohibits Turkey (D) from prosecuting Demons because
he was aboard a French ship. This stems from the fact that the effects of the alleged offense
occurred
on
a
Turkish
vessel.
Hence, both states here may exercise concurrent jurisdiction over this matter because there is no
rule of international law in regards to collision cases to the effect that criminal proceedings are
exclusively within the jurisdiction of the state whose flag is flown.
Discussion. In 1975, France enacted a law regarding its criminal jurisdiction over aliens because
of this the situation surrounding this case. The law stipulates that aliens who commit a crime
outside the territory of the Republic may be prosecuted and judged pursuant to French law, when
the victim is of French nationality. This is contained in 102 Journal Du Droit International 962
(Clunet 1975). Several eminent scholars have criticized the holding in this case for seeming to
imply that international law permits all that it does not forbid.