Page images
PDF
EPUB

Opinion of the Court.

it is controlled by the law of the State in which the incorporation is had. That is the place of contract, and, generally, the law of the place where a contract is made governs its nature, interpretation and obligation. While this is so, it is also true that parties in making a contract may have in view some other law than that of the place, and when that is so that other law will control. That the parties have some other law in view and contract with reference to it is shown by an express declaration to that effect. In the absence of such declaration it may be disclosed by the terms of the contract and the purpose with which it is entered into. In Pritchard v. Norton, 106 U. S. 124, many cases were cited by Mr. Justice Matthews, delivering the opinion of the court, in which these propositions were illustrated and enforced, and on page 136 it was said :

“The law we are in search of, which is to decide upon the nature, interpretation and validity of the engagement in question, is that which the parties have, either expressly or presumptively, incorporated into their contract as constituting its obligation. It has never been better described than it was incidentally by Mr. Chief Justice Marshall, in Wayman v. Southard, 10 Wheat. 1, 48, where he defined it as a principle of universal law, * The principle that in every forum a contract is governed by the law with a view to which it was made. The same idea had been expressed by Lord Mansfield in Robinson v. Bland, 2 Burr. 1077, 1078, “the law of the place,' he said, 'can never be the rule where the transaction is entered into with an express view to the law of another country, as the rule by which it is to be governed.' And in Lloyd v. Guibert, Law Rep. 1 Q. B. 115, 120, in the Court of Exchequer Chamber, it was said that it is necessary to consider by what general law the parties intended that the transaction should be governed, or rather, by what general law it is just to presume that they have submitted themselves in the matter.' Le Breton v. Miles, 8 Paige [N. Y. ], 261.”

The subject was also discussed at length by Mr. Justice Gray in Liverpool Steam Company v. Phenix Insurance Company, 129 U. S. 397.. In Coghlan v. South Carolina Railroad Company, 142 U. S. 101, 110, Mr. Justice Harlan, referring to these two opinions, observed : “The elaborate and careful re

Opinion of the Court.

view of the adjudged cases, American and English, in the two cases last cited, leaves nothing to be said upon the general subject.”

In Bank of Augusta v. Earle, 13 Pet. 519, 588, Chief Justice Taney said:

“It is very true that a corporation can have no legal existence out of the boundaries of the sovereignty by which it is created.

But although it must live and have its being in that State only, yet it does not by any means follow that its existence there will not be recognized in other places; and its residence in one State creates no insuperable obiection to its power of contracting in another. It is indeed a mere artificial being, invisible and intangible, yet it is a person for certain purposes in contemplation of law, and has been recognized as such by the decisions of this court. It was so held in the case of The United States v. Amedy, 11 Wheat. 412, and in Beaston v. The Farmers' Bank of Delaware, 12 Pet. 135. Now natural persons, through the intervention of agents, are continually making contracts in countries in which they do not reside, and where they are not personally present when the contract is made, and nobody has ever doubted the validity of these agreements. And what greater objection can there be to the capacity of an artificial person, by its agents, to make a contract within the scope of its limited powers, in a sovereignty in which it does not reside, provided such contracts are permitted to be made by them by the laws of the place ?”

And then, after discussing the question of comity, added (p. 589):

Adopting, as we do, the principle here stated, we proceed to inquire whether, by the comity of nations, foreign corporations are permitted to make contracts within their jurisdiction, and we can perceive no sufficient reason for excluding them when they are not contrary to the known policy of the State, or injurious to its interests.

“It is nothing more than the admission of the existence of an artificial person created by the law of another State, and clothed with the power of making certain contracts. It is but the usual comity of recognizing the law of another State."

Opinion of the Court.

As then a corporation can have no legal existence outside of the State in which it is incorporated, the contract of the stockholders with one another, by which the corporation is created, is presumed to have been made with reference to the laws of that State, nothing being said in the charter to the contrary. But as comity permits a corporation to enter another State and do business therein, it is competent for the stockholders in making their charter to contract with reference to the laws of a State in which they propose the corporation shall do business. And in this case the stockholders in their charter specified that the purpose of the incorporation was partly business beyond the limits of Colorado, and that the principal part of such outside business should be carried on in California. Not content to rely upon the general authority which by the rules of comity the Colorado corporation would have to enter California, and transact business therein, they in terms set forth that a part of the purpose of the incorporation was the transaction of business by the corporation in California. Now when they in terms specified that they were framing a corporation for the purpose of having that corporation do business in California is it not clear that they were contracting with reference to the laws of that State? Contracting with reference to the laws of that State they must be assumed to know the provisions of those laws; that by them a personal liability was cast upon the stockholders in corporations formed under the laws of the State, and that that same liability was also imposed upon the stockholders of corporations formed under the laws of other States and doing business within California. How can it be said that those laws do not enter into the contract and control as to all business done in pursuance of that contract within the limits of California ? Suppose these same stockholders in Colorado bad formed a partnership with the expressed intent of carrying on business in California, would not that expressed intent be a clear reference to the laws of California and an incorporation of those laws into the liabilities created by the partnership business in California ? And if this rule obtains as to contracts of partners between themselves, why not also as to contracts of stockholders between themselves in forming a corporation ?

Syllabus.

In this case it appears that the business transactions out of which these liabilities arose were carried on in California. They resulted from business done in California by virtue of an express contract made by the stockholders with reference to such business. It is unnecessary to express an opinion upon the question whether any personal liability would be assumed by the stockholders in reference to business transacted in Colorado. Parties may contract with special reference to carrying on business in separate States, and when they make an express contract therefor the business transacted in each of the States will be affected by the laws of those States, and may result in a difference of liability. Neither is it necessary to express any opinion upon the question whether the defendants could have been held liable under the California statutes, independently of the provisions of the Colorado charter. All that we here hold is that when a corporation is formed in one State, and by the express terms of its charter it is created for doing business in another State, and business is done in that State, it must be assumed that the charter contract was made with reference to its laws; and the liabilities which those laws impose will attend the transaction of such business. The judgment of the Superior Court is

Affirmed.

DOOLEY v. UNITED STATES.

ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE SOUTH

ERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK.

No. 207. Argued January 8, 9, 10, 11, 1901.- Decided December 2, 1901.

The act of Congress taking effect May 1, 1900, and known as the Foraker

act, which requires all merchandise going into Porto Rico from the United States to pay a duty of fifteen per cent of the amount of duties paid

upon merchandise imported from foreign countries, is constitutional. The Constitution, in declaring that no tax or duty shall be laid on articles

exported from any State, is limited to articles exported to a foreign country, and has no application to Porto Rico, which, in the case of De Lima

Opinion of the Court.

v. Bidwell, 182 U. S. 1, was held not to be a foreign country within the

meaning of the general tariff law then in force. The fact that the duties so collected were not covered into the general fund

of the Treasury, but held as a separate fund to be used for the government and benefit of Porto Rico, and were made subject to repeal by the legislative assembly of that island, shows that the tax was not intended as a duty upon exports, and that Congress was undertaking to legislate for the island temporarily, and only until a local government was put in operation.

This was an action begun in the Circuit Court as a Court of Claims by the firm of Dooley, Smith & Co., to recover duties exacted of them and paid under protest to the collector of the port of San Juan, Porto Rico, upon merchandise imported into that port from the port of New York after May 1, 1900, and since the Foraker act. This act requires all merchandise “coming into Porto Rico from the United States” to be “entered at the several ports of entry upon payment of fifteen per centum of the duties which are required to be levied, collected and paid upon

like articles of merchandise imported from foreign countries."

A demurrer was interposed by the District Attorney upon the ground that the court had no jurisdiction of the subject of the action, and also that the complaint did not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action. The demurrer to the complaint for insufficiency was sustained, and the petition dismissed.

The case was argued with De Lima v. Bidwell, 182 U. S. 1; Downes v. Bidwell, 182 U. S. 244; Dooley v. United States, 182 U. S. 222; and Armstrong v. United States, 182 U. S. 243.

Mr. Henry M. Ward and Mr. John G. Carlisle for plaintiff in error.

Mr. Edmund Curtis was on their brief.

Mr. Attorney General and Mr. Solicitor General for defendant in error.

MR. JUSTICE Brown, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.

This case raises the question of the constitutionality of the

« PreviousContinue »