CourtFederal Tribunal (Switzerland)
Switzerland, Federal Tribunal.

Consular relations Honorary consul Immunity Attachment and executionBank account Whether personal funds of honorary consul benefit from immunity Requirement that funds allocated for consular functions can be separated from personal funds Consulate situated in private offices of honorary consul Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963 Article 61

State immunity Attachment and execution Bank account Funds allocated for diplomatic or consular functions Whether immunity extends to private funds of diplomatic or consular agent The law of Switzerland

Summary: The facts:Mr Griessen, a Geneva businessman, was the Honorary Consul of Chad. In October 1982 an attachment order was obtained by Acli Commodity Services on a bank account opened by Mr Griessen under the designation Consul J.J. Griessen. The Geneva offices of the Consulate were also Mr Griessen's private business offices. Mr Griessen challenged the attachment on the basis of immunity from execution, having obtained a certificate from the Charg d'Affaires of Chad in Paris, stating that the account at issue was intended to cover consular expenses. The responsible Cantonal Authority upheld the attachment on the ground that the account had been used for Mr Griessen's commercial activities and he had failed to give precise details of any expenses incurred in the running of the Consulate. Mr Griessen appealed to the Federal Tribunal.

Held:The appeal was dismissed.

(1) Assets allocated for the financing of a diplomatic mission of a foreign State enjoyed immunity from attachment. But where assets subjected to attachment belonged not to a foreign State but to an individual who himself designed them for the functioning of such a mission, without being in any way bound to do so, such a decision was purely arbitrary and could not be invoked against creditors.

(2) Even if it were acceptable to allow the benefit of consular immunity to funds belonging to an honorary consul personally rather than to the State which he represented, where those funds had been voluntarily allocated for the performance of sovereign functions, such immunity could still not be granted in this case. It was not known what funds had been allocated for the needs of the State and the same account was used for the private commercial activities of the Consul.

(3) An honorary consul enjoyed immunity from execution only in relation to contractual obligations entered into within the framework of his official functions and not for obligations arising in the course of his private commercial activities. The same considerations applied to the funds necessary for the functioning of a consular mission as those which limited the inviolability of archives and documents, pursuant to Article 61 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963, to cases where such documents were kept separate from private and commercial materials.

The following is a statement of the facts as...

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