Stahel v Bastid

JurisdictionSuiza
CourtCourt of Justice of Geneva (Switzerland)
Switzerland, Court of Justice of Geneva (First Civil Chamber)
Stahel
and
Bastid

International organizations Immunity Representatives accredited to organization International Labour Organization Members of Governing Body Jurisdictional immunity Purpose and scope of Limitation to periods of conferences International Labour Organization-Switzerland Headquarters Agreement, 1946

Diplomatic relations Immunity Representatives accredited to international organization Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, Article 31 The law of Switzerland

Summary: The facts:The Court heard an appeal against a decision in which the court of the first instance had declared that it was not competent to hear an action brought against an employers' deputy member of the Governing Body of the International Labour Organization, on the grounds that, under Article 15 of the Headquarters Agreement of 11 March 1946 between the ILO and Switzerland, the defendant enjoyed immunity from legal process, the judge being obliged automatically to declare an exception for reasons of public order.

Held:The judgment under appeal was rescinded and the case was referred back to the court of first instance for a fresh judgment.

Members of the Governing Body of the ILO were not officials. The immunity enjoyed by them was intermittent and could only be claimed during the conferences and meetings in which they were required to take part. It was the duty of a person seeking to rely on immunity to establish the precise circumstances which entitled him to immunity on a particular date.

The following is the complete text of the summary of the judgment contained in the United Nations Juridical Yearbook 1971, p. 247 (English translation):

The Court pointed out that, under Article 3 of the Headquarters Agreement, the ILO enjoyed the immunities known in international law as diplomatic immunities. Under the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, immunity from civil jurisdiction did not apply in the case of a real action relating to private immovable property situated in the territory of the receiving State (Article 31, paragraph 1 (a)). The Court observed that those conditions had not been fulfilled and that the case in litigation clearly was a personal claim.

The Court also pointed out that Article 21 of the Headquarters Agreement stipulated that the immunities provided for therein were designed solely to ensure the free functioning of the International Labour Organization and the...

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