HC Deb 04 December 1951 vol 494 cc251-2W
Viscount Lambton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in view of its importance to British subjects wishing to safeguard their rights to recover debts owing to them on the outbreak of war by persons in Germany, if he will ensure that a simple statement of the relevant German law is made known in this country.

Mr. Nutting

The Federal Republic of Germany passed laws concerning limitation in December, 1950, and March, 1951. These laws have recently been supplemented so far as the rights of foreign nationals are concerned by an Allied High Commission Law which came into force on 4th December. Certain rights might become barred by lapse of time on 31st December, 1951. Generally speaking, however, rights of British nationals which were not barred by lapse of time before the outbreak of war will not become barred before 1st July, 1952, or, in cases where under foreign exchange and other legislation in Germany a licence is still required for the exercise of these rights, before the end of the calendar year following the year in which such a licence ceases to be required.

It is not possible within the compass of a Parliamentary answer to specify the rights affected by this legislation; any person who is in doubt as to his position would be well advised to consult an expert on German law. It may, however, be stated that this legislation only affects rights governed by German law; accordingly I understand that it does not apply to the generality of foreign currency bonds issued outside Germany, or of banking and other debts expressed in non-German currency. I am advised that where the period for enforcing a debt will expire whether on 31st December, 1951, or later, it may be possible to preserve the right to enforce it by obtaining from the debtor before the expiry of the period an acknowledgement of the debt or by the service of a writ where such an acknowledgment is refused.