Salabert v US Government

CourtCivil Tribunal (France)
Date30 janvier 1956
France, Tribunal Civil de la Seine.
Government of the United States of America.

Jurisdiction — Exemptions from — Foreign States — Waiver of Immunity from Jurisdiction — Institution of Proceedings by Foreign State — What Constitutes Institution of Proceedings — The Law of France.

The Facts.—A French company made an agreement with the plaintiff whereby the latter was given permission to run a hair-dressing saloon on premises owned by the Company, for a period of twelve years. When the agreement still had five years to run, the shareholders of the Company sold all their shares to the Government of the United States of America, and the premises on which the plaintiff carried on his business became the property of the United States Government. The Company was subsequently wound up. It was a term of the original agreement that the owners of the premises should be entitled to serve notice on the plaintiff terminating the agreement if at any time the plaintiff ceased actively to carry on the business of a hairdresser on the premises. The United States Government, as successors in title of the French Company, served notice on the plaintiff, in accordance with the terms of the agreement, on the ground that the plaintiff had closed his hairdresser's business. They did not, however, invoke a clause of the agreement which provided that any dispute between the parties thereto should be submitted to the President of the Tribunal de Commerce de la Seine, nor did they take any steps to institute proceedings against the plaintiff for possession of the premises. The plaintiff, who admitted that he had closed his business but alleged that he had been forced to do so as a result of structural alterations carried out on the premises by the United States Government, contended that the latter, by serving notice on him in accordance with the agreement, had constituted themselves plaintiffs and had thereby voluntarily submitted to the jurisdiction of the French courts, and that he was therefore entitled to ask the Court to ascertain the cause of the closure of his business and assess the damage suffered by him as a result of such closure.

Held: that the serving of notice on the plaintiff did not constitute the institution of proceedings by the United States Government and did not therefore amount to a waiver of immunity from the jurisdiction of the French courts; the Court was accordingly not entitled to entertain the plaintiff's application.

The Court said: “It is...

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