Saignie v Embassy of Japan

JurisdictionFrance
CourtCourt of Cassation (France)
Date11 février 1997
France, Court of Cassation (First Civil Chamber).

(Lemontey, President; Ancel, Rapporteur; Gaunet, Advocate-General)

Saignie
and
Embassy of Japan

State immunity Jurisdictional immunity Employment dispute Caretaker employed by foreign embassy Claim for damages for wrongful dismissal Whether foreign State entitled to jurisdictional immunity Test of whether employee given special responsibility for performance of public service The law of France

Summary: The facts:Mr Saignie, having been dismissed from his employment as caretaker at the Japanese Embassy in Paris, claimed damages for breach of contract in proceedings instituted before the French courts. The Court of Appeal of Paris held that the claim was inadmissible by reason of the jurisdictional immunity enjoyed by foreign States since, in carrying out his responsibilities for the surveillance of the premises, the plaintiff exercised powers involving direct participation in the public service.

Held:The appeal was allowed.

The function of the plaintiff did not give him any special responsibility for the performance of the public service of the Embassy, so that his dismissal constituted an ordinary act of management (acte de gestion). Accordingly, the Court of Appeal had not drawn the correct legal consequences from its findings as to the nature of the plaintiff's employment.

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

The Court has considered the principle of the jurisdictional immunity of foreign States.

Mr Saignie was dismissed from his employment as a caretaker at the Embassy of Japan in Paris. He instituted proceedings claiming damages for the breach of his contract...

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