Preferential Treatment of Claims of Blockading Powers against Venezuela

Date of Award: 22 February 1904


Seal of the Permanent Court of ArbitrationAt the beginning of the twentieth century Germany, Great Britain, Italy and other European states raised various claims against Venezuela. In 1902, in retaliation for the debtor’s failure to make payments on claims, the three abovementioned powers blockaded Venezuelan ports. The blockade was lifted after Venezuela recognised the validity of the claims presented by Germany, Great Britain and Italy and agreed to guarantee the due payment by levying a 30% tax of the monthly custom revenues of two of its ports. Analogous actions were taken regarding claims issued by the other states that adhered to the agreement with Venezuela. The blockading powers demanded preferential treatment in the payment of their claims but this was not granted by Venezuela. Unable to resolve the question of sharing the revenues by all creditors, Venezuela and the three blockading powers decided to institute arbitration proceedings.

The Tribunal ruled that the three blockading powers were indeed entitled to preferential treatment in the payment of claims. The neutral powers that only later adhered to the agreement with Venezuela did not acquire any new rights, nor could they benefit from any privileged position.

Award of the Tribunal, 22 February 1904

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