Champel Bellevue SA v Geneva

JurisdictionSuiza
CourtCourt of Justice of Geneva (Switzerland)
Switzerland, Court of Justice of Geneva.
Champel Bellevue sa
and
State of Geneva

State immunity Jurisdictional immunity Lease Eviction order obtained against Permanent Mission of foreign State Whether Mission has locus standi Whether Mission merely acting as agent of foreign State Whether proceedings violating rules of State immunity

Diplomatic relations Inviolability of diplomatic mission Service of writ on premises of missionWhether violating Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, Articles 22(1) and 30

Diplomatic relations Immunity from jurisdiction and execution Proceedings for obtaining and enforcing eviction order against diplomatic mission Whether violating Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, Articles 22(1) and 30 Waiver Conditions Vienna Convention, Article 32 The law of Switzerland

Summary: The facts:A lease granted to the Permanent Mission of Republic Z in Geneva was repudiated by the appellant, a property company, which subsequently obtained an eviction order in default of appearance. At the relevant time, the premises in question were occupied by a diplomatic agent of State Z whose mandate had expired. The judicial authorities in Geneva refused to enforce the eviction order and the lessor instituted a claim for damages against those authorities which was rejected. The lessor appealed to the Court of Justice of Geneva.

Held:The appeal was dismissed.

(1) The lease had been concluded by the Permanent Mission of State Z which did not have legal personality but merely acted as the representative of the sending State, which was entitled to jurisdictional immunity as a foreign State. Since the eviction order had been issued against the Mission itself, it was void and the authorities had been right to refuse to enforce it.

(2) In any case, the proceedings violated the rules on diplomatic immunity. Service of the writ had infringed the inviolability of the diplomatic mission (Articles 22(1) and 30 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations). Furthermore, failure to enter an appearance by the Mission did not imply waiver of jurisdictional immunity (Article 32(2)). Finally, the attempt to enforce the order violated immunity from execution, which required a separate waiver (Article 32(4)). The fact that the person in occupation of the property had lost his diplomatic status did not affect the position since he was neither the defendant nor the lessee.

The following is a statement of the facts as reported in Annuaire Suisse...

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