CERN Senior Official Immunity Case

JurisdictionSuiza
CourtCantonal Tribunal (Switzerland)
Switzerland, Cantonal Supervisory Authority of Geneva.
CERN Senior Official Immunity Case

International organization and administration International officials European Organization for Nuclear Research Senior official Scope of entitlement to immunity from jurisdiction of municipal courts and immunity from execution CERN-Switzerland Headquarters Agreement, 1955 Whether immunity extends to wife of official The law of Switzerland

Diplomatic and consular intercourse and privileges Right of other persons to privileges and immunities Officials of international organizations Senior official of European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) Scope of entitlement to immunity from jurisdiction of municipal courts and immunity from execution CERN-Switzerland Headquarters Agreement, 1955 Whether immunity extends to wife of official Execution of judgment debt against wife relating to lawyer's fees incurred in court proceedings where immunity waived Claim to immunity by wife Whether operates retroactively Suspension of proceedings pending decision by CERN on waiver The law of Switzerland

Summary: The facts:Mrs L, the wife of a senior official of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), who was separated from her husband, incurred a debt for lawyer's fees in connection with matrimonial proceedings. A summons to pay, issued in 1963 by the Office des Poursuites, was first contested and later partially satisfied. On 19 November 1964, at the request of the creditor, the Office des Poursuites proceeded to take measures of execution in respect of the outstanding amount of the debt and was met by a claim of diplomatic immunity. The Office thereupon annulled the original summons and stopped proceedings. The lawyer in question contested the decision before the Cantonal Supervisory Authority of Geneva.

Held:The original summons to pay was valid but execution would be suspended until a decision was taken by CERN on a request for waiver of immunity.

(1) The Federal Department of Justice and Police had certified that the official in question was entitled to immunity from jurisdiction under the Headquarters Agreement between CERN and Switzerland.1 That immunity extended to his wife even though she was actually separated from her husband.

(2) The immunity to which the wife was entitled had been waived in the proceedings to which the present claim for court fees related. This waiver covered debt proceedings arising out of or directly resulting from those...

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