Opinion Number. 288

Subject

CUSTOMS OF CIVILIZED NATIONS WHETHER PRECLUDE BARRING INHERITANCE OF REAL PROPERTY BY ALIENS

Date
Client
The Secretary, Department of External Affairs

The following letter from Messrs Strongman and Crouch, Solicitors, Melbourne, to the Minister for External Affairs has been referred to this Department for consideration:

We are forwarding you copy correspondence with the Clerk of the District Court of Knox County, Center, Nebraska, U.S.A. With our letter of the 19 Dec. 1906 proof and authority as required was sent. We wish to specially direct your attention to the statement in the letter of 15 Feby 1907 that the laws of Nebraska prohibit payment of legacies to aliens. As this is a matter affecting the rights of Australians generally, and not of Mr a.b.C. only as a citizen of the Commonwealth, will you please take the necessary steps to protect Mr C.'s rights-as the Nebraska law, if existent, is contrary to the customs of civilized nations.

The letter of 15 February 1907, referred to in Messrs Strongman and Crouch's letter, does not contain any statement to the effect that 'the laws of Nebraska prohibit payment of legacies to aliens' but it states that 'Our state law provides that aliens cannot inherit real property'.

So far as I can see there is nothing contrary to the customs of civilized nations in a law providing that aliens cannot inherit real property. Before 1870 an alien could not acquire real property in Great Britain.

Recommend to advise the Department of External Affairs that there is nothing in the correspondence to call for action on the part of the Commonwealth.

[Vol. 6, p. 132]

(1) This Opinion was endorsed 'Approved' by Mr Groom, Attorney-General.