Lysongo v The Foreign And Commonwealth Office & Anor, Court of Appeal - Queen's Bench Division, November 05, 2018, [2018] EWHC 2955 (QB)

Resolution Date:November 05, 2018
Issuing Organization:Queen's Bench Division
Actores:Lysongo v The Foreign And Commonwealth Office & Anor

Neutral Citation Number: [2018] EWHC 2955 (QB)

Case No: HQ17X03342



Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: 5 November 2018

Before :


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Between :

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The Claimant appeared in person

James Purnell and Sean Aughey

(instructed by Government Legal Dept.) for the First Defendant

The Second Defendant did not appear and was not represented

Hearing date: 25 October 2018

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Mrs Justice Farbey :


  1. This is an application by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (`FCO') to strike out the claimant's case on the basis that the High Court has no jurisdiction to hear it. On 14 September 2017, the claimant Mr Makweley Lysongo lodged a claim form seeking relief against Her Majesty's Government and the Republic of Cameroon on the basis of wrongs alleged to have been done by the United Kingdom to the people of the former British Southern Cameroons (`BSC'). It is said that those wrongs took place before and at the time of independence from the United Kingdom when BSC became part of the Republic of Cameroon.

  2. By way of relief, the claimant seeks declarations that the union of BSC and Cameroon was illegal and invalid; that the illegal ceding of BSC to Cameroon means that the Republic of Cameroon (the second defendant) has no right to govern that part of its territory which was previously under British administration; that BSC remains part of the United Kingdom; and that the FCO has breached international law and United Nations (`UN') resolutions by the manner in which it divested itself of the administration of BSC. The claimant seeks a number of other orders including damages. I need not set out the details. The claim having been lodged against the United Kingdom Government, the FCO applied and was granted permission to be substituted as the first defendant. The second defendant has taken no part in the proceedings.

  3. The claimant seeks to bring the claim on behalf of the population of BSC. I have not seen any proper evidence that other individuals wish to be joined with Mr Lysongo in the claim and so I shall refer to Mr Lysongo as the claimant. Case management has to date been undertaken by a Master of the Queen's Bench Division and I heard the application in the Civil List. It remains a moot point whether the case would properly fall to be heard in the Administrative Court. In the event, it has not been necessary for me to decide whether the case should be transferred: I will in this judgment deal only with the merits of the FCO's application.

  4. Both the claimant (who appeared in person) and Mr James Purnell and Mr Sean Aughey who appeared on behalf of the FCO produced skeleton arguments. Mr Purnell and Mr Aughey made detailed submissions about jurisdiction on a number of different bases. I mean no disrespect to their submissions by dealing with only some of their arguments which are nevertheless sufficient to determine the FCO application and dispose of the claimant's case. I have kept this judgment as succinct as the nature of the issues allows: no useful purpose would be served by anything else.

    The Facts

  5. In terms of evidence, I was provided with a statement from Dr Robert Dixon who is Head of the West Africa Department within the FCO. Mr Lysongo produced the results of his researches in the National Archives and elsewhere. Both parties took me in detail to events which led to the formation of the Republic of Cameroon as an independent state. From 1884, the territory of the present-day Republic was a German colony. After the defeat of Germany in the First World War, it was divided between French and British rule under the Franco-British Declaration of 10 July 1919. Following a period under British Mandate, the territory governed by the United Kingdom was brought within the United Nations International Trusteeship System, established by Chapter XII of the Charter of the United Nations (San Francisco, 1945). Under Chapter XII, the purpose of Trusteeship was to administer and supervise certain territories in order to advance their progressive development towards self-government or independence as was `appropriate to the particular circumstances of each territory and its peoples and the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned'. The basic objectives of the system included the encouragement of respect for human rights for all (UN Charter, Arts 75 and 76). The Trusteeship System did not in itself alter the rights of any states or peoples (UN Charter, Art 80). Trusteeship operated through individual trusteeship agreements (UN Charter, Art 75).

  6. The United Kingdom became the administering authority under Chapter XII for the territory previously governed by British Mandate. A Trusteeship Agreement was approved by the United Nations on 13 December 1946 (Treaty Series No. 20 (1947), Cmd. 7802). Under Article 3 of the Trusteeship Agreement, the UK undertook (among other things) to `administer the Territory in such a manner as to achieve the basic objectives of the international trusteeship system' laid down by the Charter and to `collaborate fully' with the United Nations General Assembly (`UNGA') in the discharge of all its functions. By virtue of Article 5 of the Trusteeship Agreement, the UK was granted `full powers of legislation, administration and jurisdiction' in the territory that constituted the Trust. The UK used its jurisdiction to divide the Trust territory into the Northern and Southern Cameroons.

  7. By Resolution 1350 (XIII) of 13 March 1959, UNGA recommended that the UK take steps towards plebiscites - to be organised by the UK under UN supervision - in both the Northern and Southern Cameroons...

To continue reading