Coco v Argentina

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

(Glineau-Larrivet, President; Brissier, Rapporteur, De Caigny, Advocate-General)

Coco
and
State of Argentina

State immunity Jurisdictional immunity Embassy employee Assistant in Press Section Dispute concerning contract of employment Whether foreign State entitled to jurisdictional immunity Relevance of fact that employee had no special responsibility for public service The law of France

Summary:The facts:Mr Coco was employed by the Embassy of Argentina in Paris as an Assistant in the Press Section, with the task of collecting, ordering and transmitting information of interest to the State of Argentina. He was dismissed for economic reasons in 1990 and instituted proceedings claiming damages for wrongful dismissal. The Court of Appeal of Paris held that the claim was inadmissible by reason of jurisdictional immunity since Mr Coco was a member of the administrative and technical staff of a foreign mission and, as such, participated in the performance of a public service for a foreign State. Mr Coco appealed to the Court of Cassation.

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

The protected interests of the State of Argentina justifying jurisdictional immunity were not infringed in this case by the dismissal of the plaintiff. His tasks were such that he had not been charged with any special responsibility for the exercise of a public service and his dismissal therefore constituted an ordinary act of administration (acte de gestion).

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

On the third ground of the appeal lodged against the State of Argentina

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

According to the judgment subject to appeal, Mr Coco was employed by the Embassy of the State of Argentina in Paris as an Assistant in the Press Section and was dismissed for economic reasons on 19 October 1990.

Mr Coco brought proceedings against the State of Argentina claiming compensation for the termination of his contract of employment. The Court of Appeal, in holding that the action brought by Mr Coco was inadmissible, stated that he was a member of the administrative and technical staff of...

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