la Cour de Londres a encore pu écarter la question, lorsqu'elle fut appelée a statuer définitivement sur le sort des navires allemands retenus dans les ports anglais dès le début des hostilités. Ainsi, elle a laissé la controverse indécise, comme il ressort du jugement Marie Leonhardt (1356) :
„The questions discussed upon the hearing of the motion were these : — Was there at the outbreak of the war a rule of international law whereby an enemy merchant ship then found in the port of a belligerent was entitled to depart freely from such port either immediately of after a reasonable number of days of grace ? [Voir sur cette question § 352.] Was such a right prima facie conceded to the German owners of shipping either by Convention VI of The Hague, or by diplomatic Communications which took place on or after the outbreak of war ? [Voir sur cette question § 349.] If prima facie the Convention or any diplomatic communication conceded such a right, was the concession abrogated, or were German nationals precluded from daiming any advantage thereunder by the conduct of Germany during the war in systematic violation of the Convention, and of other Conventions made at The Hague, and of the rules of international law withregard towarfarebetweencivilizedPowers? .... Affidavits.... were read which set out in an appalling catalogue the horrors inflicted during the war by Germany upon belhgerents, neutrals, combatants and non-combatants, by reason of which it was contended on the part of the Crown that German nationals must be hdd disentitled to any advantage from the adherence of Great-Britain to Convention No. VI or from any offers of the British Foreign Office at the outset of the war to extend such advantages under concessions to be
mutually agreed By reason of the course taken on behalf of the
daimants it is unnecessary that I should come to a décision upon any question other than the first of those I have already mentioned. Mr. N. asserted no rights on their part under The Hague Convention or the diplomatic correspondence (et il invoqua le droit coutumier seul).;."
[Voir pour le reste § 352.]
Ainsi qu'il appert d'un jugement postérieur, du mois de janvier 1921, la Cour anglaise de première instance s'est félicitée de n'avoir pas été dans la nécessité de statuer sur cette question épineuse.
Voir les passages suivants de la décision de Sir Henry Duke concernant les vapeurs Blonde, Hercules and Prosper (1366) :
„Some reference was also made toamatter which was seriouslyraisedin The Marie Leonhardt (1356), and which was seriously raisedhere - namely, that, by reason of the acts of inhuman atrocity perpetrated under thé authority of the Imperia! German Government during the war, citizens of Germany were outside the protection of international law, and could not be heard to make daims to the benefits of international law in matters where their rulers repudiated the obligations of international law. That last-mentioned subject was not necessary for deterrnination in