Federal Republic of Germany, Administrative Court of Cologne.

Case No 9 K 2565/77 3 May 1978

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The facts:
The plaintiff held the title of Foreign Secretary and President of the State Council of the so-called Duchy of Sealand, an entity established on a former anti-aircraft platform erected by the United Kingdom eight miles off its southern coast and attached by concrete pillars to the seabed. At all relevant times, the platform was outside United Kingdom territorial waters.

The platform was abandoned after the Second World War and occupied in 1967 by a fanner British Army Officer who proclaimed the establishment of the Duchy. The plaintiff brought an action for a declaration that, as one of 106 persons who had acquired the citizenship of the “Duchy”, he had lost his citizenship of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The action was admissible but unfounded. International law required three essential attributes for Statehood. The State must have a territory, a people and a government. At least two of these requirements were absent in the case of the “Duchy”.

Territory must consist in a natural segment of the earth’s surface. An artificial island, albeit connected to the earth’s surface, did not satisfy this criterion. Whilst size was irrelevant, in order to constitute a people the group of persons in question must form a cohesive vibrant community. An association whose common purpose covered merely commercial and tax affairs was insufficient