The issue of suing is still an interesting thing to discuss. In this article, the author will discuss Article 100 Reglement op de Rechtsvordering (“RV”) which is usually used as the legal basis for filing a civil suit against a foreign party in a District Court in Indonesia.
Article 118 (1) Herzien Inlandsch Reglement (“HIR”) stipulates that a Plaintiff shall file a lawsuit to the district court where the defendant is domiciled, also known as the principle of Actor Sequitur Forum Rei or relative competence. However, Article 118 HIR doesn’t stipulate clearly regarding the filing of a lawsuit in the event that the defendant is domiciled outside of Indonesia or in a foreign country.
In practice, Article 100 RV is often used as the basis for a lawsuit filed in Indonesia by an Indonesian citizen or legal entity against foreigners who are domiciled outside of Indonesia. Nevertheless, Article 100 RV doesn’t stipulate clearly regarding which jurisdiction of the Indonesian Court has the right to adjudicate the case. Article 100 RV states as follows:
“A Foreign citizen, even those who do not domicile in Indonesia, may be sued before an Indonesian civil court for any obligation in Indonesia or anywhere with Indonesian citizens.”
In connection with the provision of Article 100 RV, the author will explain about a very phenomenal case, which is the case of Soeharto, the former President of the Republic of Indonesia against the Asian Edition of Time Magazine on 24 May 1999, which was highlighted in the news, displaying a picture of Soeharto with the cover title “SUHARTO INC. How Indonesia’s longtime boss built a family fortune”.
According to Soeharto, the news reported by Time magazine was tendentious, insinuative and provocative, as seen in:
- The title of the magazine cover, “SUHARTO INC. How Indonesia’s longtime boss built a family fortune”.
- On pages 16 and 17, the magazine displays a picture of Soeharto hugging a house.
- On page 16, the magazine writes the following words: “there is a report that a huge amount of money related to Indonesia has been transferred from a bank in Switzerland to another bank in Austria, which is currently considered a safe haven for deposits-secret deposits.” It continues to page 17: “Time has learned that US$ 9 billion of Suharto’s money has been transferred from Switzerland to a specific account at Bank Austria.”
- On page 19, the magazine wrote the sentence: “it seems that none of Suharto’s companies ever paid more than 10% of its tax obligations”.
In facing the lawsuit, Time filed a Demurrer on Jurisdiction on the reasons that the press company that published TIME Magazine disputed by Soeharto is TIME Inc., a company founded under the laws of the state of Delaware, the United States of America with a business center in New York, United States. Therefore, according to Article 12 of Law No. 40 Year 1999 on Press along with its Elucidations, the party responsible for the news material is Time Inc. According to existing legal facts, Time Inc. is a legal entity established under the laws of the state of Delaware, the United States of America (Time Inc. is Delaware Corporation) with a registered address at 32 Loockerman Square, Suite L-100, Dover, Kent County, Delaware 19901, USA and the headquarters of Time Inc., business activities of Time is at Rockefeller Center, New York City in the state of New York, United States.
The Time Inc. registered in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (“Hong Kong”) is only a Hong Kong Branch office of a foreign company (an oversea company) that runs a small part of Time Inc. in the territory of Hong Kong. In order to carry out part of its business activities in Hong Kong, Time Inc. is registered in Hong Kong under the branch name “Time Inc. Asia”.
Time Inc. Asia is the name of a branch that is part of the worldwide business of Time Inc. As an Oversea Company that is registered and has a place for doing business in Hong Kong, Time Inc. Asia does not have a separate legal entity position with Time Inc. According to the applicable laws in Hong Kong, any lawsuit or claim against Time Inc., Asia must be filed against TIME Inc., a company established under the laws of the state of Delaware, United States, with the headquarters of its business activities in New York. Therefore, according to Time Magazine, the Central Jakarta District Court does not have jurisdiction or competence to examine and adjudicate the case.
That was the reasoning behind the demurrer on jurisdiction filed by Time with the intention that the Central Jakarta District Court declare that Central Jakarta District Court does not have jurisdiction or competence to examine and adjudicate the case. However, the Central Jakarta District Court rejected the demurrer on jurisdiction based on Article 100 RV along with Article 1233 and Article 1352 of the Indonesian Civil Code (“ICC”).
The legal considerations of the Interlocutory Decision of Central Jakarta District Court, who rejected the demurrer on jurisdiction of the Time Magazine, can be quoted as follows:
“Considering that the provisions of Article 1233 ICC, among others mentioned, all obligation arise either from an agreement or by law, whereas the provisions of Article 1352 ICC states, an obligation by force of law shall arise by statute or by law as a result of people’s action;
obligation which arises from the law as a result of human actions may arise from a lawful act or unlawful act, and the act that arises from the law as a result of an unlawful act is known as a tort (onrechtmatige daad) – ex Article 1365 ICC.
Considering that based on what is described above by pointing to the provisions of the Civil Law, the Court opined that the legal relationship between the Plaintiff and Defendant could be considered as an obligation, therefore the provisions of Article 100 RV can be used as a guideline of ‘law of procedure’ in handling this matter”.
The Interlocutory Decision of Central Jakarta District Court had been strengthened by the High Court and also by the Supreme Court. On the other hand, the District Court and the High Court rejected the merit of the case of Soeharto’s lawsuit, but the Supreme Court in the Appeal to the Supreme Court level granted part of Soeharto’s lawsuit and ordered Time Magazine to publicly apologize for three times in a row on national and international media and also pay a fine of IDR 1 trillion jointly. Regarding the Appeal to the Supreme Court Decision, Time Magazine filed a Review to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court at the Review level revoked the Appeal to the Supreme Court Decision, which meant compensation that Soeharto’s asked in the merit of the case was rejected by the court. However, in relation to the authority to adjudicate, based on the decision of this case, Article 100 RV can be used as a legal basis for a civil procedure to sue foreign parties in Indonesia.
Hope it is useful,
PINAKUNARY LAW OFFICES
 Pasal 118 (1) HIR
Civil lawsuit or claim in the first instance is in the jurisdiction of district court, shall be filed with Statement of Claim signed by the Plaintiff or his proxy pursuant to Article 123 addressed to the head of district court where the Defendant is domiciled or if unknown, to the residing place .”
 Article 1365 ICC
“Every person who causes loss to other person, obliged the person who cause loss to compensate the other person”.