Decision of the Court of Cassation, United Sections, No. 13980 of 9 May 2017

The case concerned the claim of an employee of the Embassy of Zambia in Rome on the alleged illegitimate termination of her work contract, which the competent Appeal Court had declared itself incompetent to decide for lack of jurisdiction vis-à-vis foreign states. In deciding on the recourse against this decision, the Court of Cassation confirmed that states’ exemption from the other states’ jurisdiction results from a customary rule of international law (codified in Article 11 of the UN Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities of States and Their Property), to which the Italian legal order automatically conforms (Article 10 of the Constitution). However, state immunities cover only the acts that are expression of sovereign powers. In the light of this, the challenged decision was correct only in part. Italian courts had not jurisdiction to order the Embassy of Zambia to continue the employment of the applicant, because this interfered with the exercise of public functions. By contrast, they were competent to decide on monetary compensation. This, also, bearing in mind the relevant jurisprudence of the ECHR Court and the Italian Constitutional Court, according to which there must be a balance between the immunities of the state and the individual right to an effective remedy.

  • See also:

    Law No. 5 of 14 January 2013, Accession of the Republic of Italy to the UN Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities of States and Their Property, done in New York on 2 December 2004, and norms for adapting the domestic legal system

  • Original language: Italiano