Immunity of the State From Foreign Jurisdiction

Immunity of the State From Foreign Jurisdiction


the universally recognized principle of international law that follows from the principle of state sovereignty and the recognition of the sovereign equality of states. The principle means that a state is not subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of another state. A foreign government, its organs, and the property belonging to it enjoy immunity. Thus, a foreign government cannot be the defendant in the court of another state unless it has given its explicit consent. A countersuit cannot be brought against a foreign state acting as a plaintiff without its consent. The seizure of the property of a foreign state as security in a suit and the application of measures for the compulsory execution of judicial decisions on the property are not permitted. With respect to the property of a foreign government, all measures incompatible with the dignity of the proprietor state are inadmissible. Such property enjoys inviolability—that is, it may not be subjected to compulsory seizure, sequestration, or other measures of compulsion by the organs of the government on whose territory it is located without the consent of the proprietor state.

Organs of the Soviet state located abroad—the trade delegations of the USSR—enjoy the immunity that pertains to the Soviet state. A trade delegation may appear in a foreign court as a defendant in controversies resulting from trade transactions concluded or guaranteed by the trade delegation in the given country, but only when the USSR has given its consent, expressed in a commercial agreement or through a unilateral declaration. Even in those instances where the USSR has by way of an exception consented to foreign jurisdiction regarding such transactions, compulsory judicial measures (compulsory recovery, measures establishing security for suits, etc.) with respect to the property at the disposal of the trade delegation may not be permitted without the consent of the USSR.

With respect to maritime vessels that are the property of the USSR, specific clauses of the Merchant Shipping Code of the USSR (arts. 21 and 22) operate: there may not be seizure, nor may recovery be applied to these vessels without the consent of the Council of Ministers of the USSR.

In the USSR, foreign states enjoy immunity on the basis of article 61 of the Principles of Civil Procedure of the USSR and the Union Republics. With respect to the property of a foreign government situated in the USSR, suits may be brought or recovery applied only with the consent of the competent bodies of the respective state. If in another state the Soviet state and its property are not guaranteed the same judicial immunity as foreign states and their property in the USSR are guaranteed under Soviet law, the Council of Ministers of the USSR or other competent bodies may undertake reciprocal measures with respect to that state or its property.


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