APPEAL FROM THE COURT OF CLAIMS
White, McKenna, Holmes, Day, Lurton, Hughes, Van Devanter, Lamar, Pitney
MR. JUSTICE HUGHES delivered the opinion of the court.
This is an appeal from a judgment of the Court of Claims which dismissed, upon demurrer, the petition of the claimant for the want of jurisdiction. 48 C. Cls. 33.
The petition averred that the claimant, a British corporation, secured from the Government of Spain, in the year 1879, a concession for the construction and operation of a submarine telegraph cable between the island of Luzon and Hong Kong, with an exclusive privilege for forty years, under which it maintained a cable from Hong Kong to Bolinao; and that in 1897, the Government of Spain granted a further concession for three submarine telegraph cables to provide communication between the Islands of Luzon, Panay, Negros and Zebu, in the Philippine archipelago. Among the conditions of the last mentioned grant, a copy of which is annexed to the petition and made a part of it, are the following:
"Article 9. The Concessionaire undertakes to work, at his own expense and risk, the Cables of this Concession for a period of twenty years, the said term to begin from the date of the taking over of the Cables and their adjuncts in perfect working order.
"Article 10. The Concessionaire shall enjoy an annual subsidy of $: 4,500 (four thousand five hundred pounds sterling), payable monthly in twelve instalments, during the whole term of the working of the Cables, the said payments being made at Manila by the Chief Treasury Office of those Islands.
"Article 16. The Company holding the Concession shall pay the State the ten per cent. which tax in its application to cablegrams is fixed after first deducting the amount of the expenses for the maintenance of the Stations, calculated at $: 6,000 (six thousand pounds sterling) per annum, the said expenses not to exceed the amount specified.
"Article 17. It shall be obligatory to transmit official despatches, which shall enjoy precedence, at half the rates charged for those of a private character. . . ."
In March, 1898, the claimant obtained an additional concession from the Government of Spain for a submarine telegraph cable between Hong Kong and Manila which was completed in the following month.
It was further alleged that the claimant had "actually fulfilled" and continued "to fulfill" all of the conditions of the concessions and "to perform all of the duties imposed upon it" by their terms. After setting forth the making of the Treaty of Paris, and the cession thereby to the United States of the Philippine Islands, the petition continued:
"Thereupon the United States of America entered into the occupancy of said Philippine Islands, and proceeded to exercise sovereignty over said Islands and of the inhabitants ...