Z v Geneva Supervisory Authority

JurisdictionSuiza
CourtFederal Tribunal (Switzerland)
Switzerland, Federal Tribunal.
Z
and
Geneva Supervisory Authority for the Enforcement of Debts and Bankruptcy

Diplomatic relations Immunity Attachment and execution Bank account Requirement that funds identifiably allocated for financing of diplomatic mission Burden of proof

State immunity Attachment and execution Bank account Funds allocated for diplomatic functions Whether immunity extending to funds designated for payment of accommodation costs of diplomatic mission The law of Switzerland

Summary: The facts:The Permanent Mission of State X to the United Nations leased a villa in Geneva for which it had not paid rent since the beginning of 1989. In 1990 the lessor obtained an attachment order against a bank account held in the name of State X at a Swiss bank. The competent cantonal authority vacated the attachment on the ground that the funds affected were allocated exclusively for the performance of sovereign functions. The lessor lodged a public law appeal before 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. This included funds allocated to cover the payment of accommodation costs for the personnel of a permanent mission.

(2) Diplomatic notes in the file clearly stated that the funds attached in the hands of the bank in this case were exclusively allocated for the purposes of the Permanent Mission. The creditor had failed to adduce evidence to demonstrate the inaccuracy of this information. Consequently the cantonal authority had been entitled to conclude that the funds subjected to attachment were allocated in a recognizable manner for the fulfilment of specific sovereign functions.

The following is a statement of the facts as reported in Revue Suisse de droit international et de droit europen, 1991, p. 546:

The Permanent Mission of State X to the Office of the United Nations in Geneva was the lessee of a villa in the Canton of Geneva for which it had not paid rent since the beginning of 1989. This state of affairs induced the lessor to apply for the attachment of the account of that State at a Swiss bank. Following the intervention of the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the International Organizations in Geneva, the Geneva Office for the Enforcement of Debts vacated the attachment on the ground that the funds affected were allocated exclusively for the performance of sovereign functions by State X.

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