Barrandon v United States of America

CourtCourt of Cassation (France)
France, Court of Cassation (Social Chamber).

(Glineau-Larrivet, President; Brissier, Conseiller-Rapporteur; Martin, Advocate-General)

United States of America

State immunity Jurisdictional immunity Embassy employee Nurse and medical administrator Employment dispute Claim for damages for wrongful dismissal Whether foreign State entitled to jurisdictional immunity Whether employee having any special responsibility for public service of embassy The law of France

Summary: The facts:Madame Barrandon was employed as a nurse and medical secretary at the United States Embassy in Paris from 1964 until 1985, when she was dismissed. She claimed damages before the French courts for wrongful dismissal. At first instance her claim was allowed in part. The Court of Appeal of Paris, on an appeal lodged by Madame Barrandon, increased the award of damages against the Embassy. The Procureur Gnral then intervened to appeal to the Court of Cassation, asserting that the United States should be granted the benefit of jurisdictional immunity. The Court of Cassation allowed the appeal and remitted the case to the Court of Appeal of Versailles. The Court of Appeal held that the United States was entitled to rely on jurisdictional immunity since the plaintiff had performed her functions for the benefit of civil and military personnel and in the interests of a public service organized by the United States for the benefit of its agents, nationals and foreign citizens (113 ILR 464). Madame Barrandon appealed to the Court of Cassation.

Held:The appeal was allowed and the case was remitted to the Court of Appeal of Orlans for decision on the merits.

The protected interests of the United States justifying jurisdictional immunity were not infringed in this case. The plaintiff's tasks were such that she had not been charged with any special responsibility for the performance of a public service of the Embassy and her dismissal therefore constituted an ordinary act of administration (acte de gestion).

The following is the text of the judgment of the Court:

On the single ground of appeal

The Court has considered the principle of the immunity from jurisdiction of foreign States.

Madame Barrandon was dismissed from her employment as a nurse and medical secretary at the Embassy of the United States of America in Paris. She instituted proceedings claiming damages for the breach of her contract of employment. The Court of Appeal held, after the case had been remitted to it following...

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