International Institute of Refrigeration v Elkaim

JurisdictionFrance
CourtCourt of Cassation (France)
France, Court of Cassation (First Civil Chamber).

(Ponsard, President and Rapporteur; Charbonnier, Advocate-General)

International Institute of Refrigeration
and
Elkaim

International organizations Immunity Jurisdictional immunity Dismissal of employee Claim for damages for wrongful dismissal France International Institute of Refrigeration Headquarters Agreement, 1966, Article 12(1)(a) Whether implicitly conferring jurisdictional immunity on Institute The law of France

Summary: The facts:Madame Elkaim was hired by the International Institute of Refrigeration for service at its Paris Headquarters as a bilingual secretary. Two years later, in January 1980, she was notified by the Director of the Institute of the termination of her employment subject to one month's notice. She instituted proceedings for wrongful dismissal and the Conseil de Prud'hommes (Employment Tribunal) upheld her claim, dismissing a preliminary plea raised by the Institute that the Conseil lacked jurisdiction. The Institute's appeal to the Court of Appeal of Paris was dismissed by a judgment of 7 February 1984 (77 ILR 498). The Court held that, whilst Article 4 of the Headquarters Agreement between France and the Institute recognized that the Institute enjoyed immunity from execution, it made no provision for immunity from jurisdiction. The Institute 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.

According to Article 12(1)(a) of the Headquarters Agreement, officials of the Institute, and in particular the Director of the Institute, enjoyed immunity from all legal proceedings relating to acts performed in the exercise of their functions and within the limit of their powers. It could not have been intended that this provision should confer upon the personnel of the Institute an immunity which the organization itself did not enjoy. The Institute could therefore rely on immunity from proceedings directed against it in relation to acts performed in its name or by its representatives.

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

On the second part of the first ground of appeal

The Court has considered Article 12(1)(a) of the [Headquarters] Agreement of 5 July 1966 between France and the International Institute of Refrigeration, concerning the privileges and immunities of that organization on French territory, which was published by Decree No 67187 of 8 March 1967.

According to this...

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