Mr. Stevens to Mr. Blaine.
Stockholm, May 7, 1881. (Received May 21.)
Sir: In the dispatch of the Secretary of State, No. 98, of March 19, touching the claims of American citizens in this country, I am directed “to transmit information of any statute of limitations in Sweden or Norway, whereby titles to estates in dispute are quieted in a given time.” I have made the proper inquiries to be able to conform to this instruction with the following result:
Under the present law of Sweden, persons dying leaving property, real estate or moveable, heirs in foreign countries must apply within one year after publication by court. The heirs may get notice by seeing publication in Swedish newspapers or through parties. Failing to apply for the possession of the property within one year after publication by the court, the same goes to the heirs next of kin. The new law, which will go into effect January 1, 1882, allows twenty years for heirs to claim real estate; but moveable property not affected by new law.
Claims for debt on note or account run ten years. Under the law of 1835, still in force, claims on all kinds of moveable property terminate in ten years. All claims in litigation on real estate die in twenty years under the new law, which will go into effect January 1, 1882.
Present law as to real estate, heirs in foreign countries must claim in one year after publication by the court in Swedish newspapers. Said heirs in foreign countries failing to make their claims within the year, the property will belong to the heirs next of kin.
Under the new law which will go into effect January 1, 1882, twenty years, after publication by court, are allowed for heirs in foreign countries to claim real estate. If not claimed within said time, the property goes to next heirs of kin. But the new law makes no change in this regard as to moveable property, one year being the limit of time to make claim after the publication of the court.
In Norway, titles to estates in dispute, whether real estate or personal property, are quieted at the expiration of twenty years. This term of limitation, however, is not sufficient, if anybody has had his title to a real estate registered in the public record books.
Legal heirs living out of Norway must claim property of deceased persons, citizens of Norway, within one year and six weeks from the time they have been called in to make their claims, sub pœna prœclusi et perpetui silentii.
The Norwegian law of limitation dates from time immemorial, and [Page 1072]was expressly repeated in the statute-book still in force, of King Christian V of Denmark, which was published in 1687.
I have, &c.,
Stockholm, May 7, 1881.
After I had finished the above dispatch I received, fortunately, a more complete and technical statement of the Swedish statutes of limitation from Judge Olivecrona, of the supreme court of Sweden, and the same I herewith inclose. I think correct answers to the inquiries of the Secretary of State can readily be found in either of the statements forwarded.