Gootjes v Kingdom of Belgium

Date13 Abril 1978
CourtLocal Court (Netherlands)
Netherlands, Local Court of Rotterdam.
Kingdom of Belgium

Sovereign immunity Foreign States Consular employee Citizen of receiving State Contract of employment Termination of Claim for unlawful dismissal Whether foreign State entitled to jurisdictional immunity Acts iure imperii and iure gestionis Waiver Whether appearance in order to plead immunity constitutes waiver The law of the Netherlands

Summary: The facts:The plaintiff was a Dutch national who had been employed in the administrative service of the Belgian Consulate-General in Rotterdam from 1 January 1969. On 26 January 1976 she was given notice of termination of her employment as from 1 March 1976. The plaintiff summonsed Belgium to appear before the Local Court, and claimed payment of her salary until the lawful termination of her contract of employment as she had been dismissed without the consent of the Director of the Regional Employment Office in Rotterdam contrary to Article 6 of the Decree on Special Employment Relations (BBA).

Held:The Court had no jurisdiction over the claim.

(1) Even though the work of the plaintiff consisted in typing and filing, she had been employed to render services to a public body by the defendant State acting in a public capacity.

(2) The appearance of the defendant before the Court did not imply submission to its jurisdiction since the defendant had expressly pleaded jurisdictional immunity.

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

5. The parties have made no choice of law. The Netherlands can be indicated as the place where the services are to be rendered.

6. According to the Dutch conflict of law rules on contracts of employment, the law of the country where the services are rendered is applicableDutch law in this case.

7. The defendant pleaded that it was not clear from the writ against whom the action was being taken: the Kingdom of Belgium, the Consulate-General in Rotterdam, or the Consul-General. On this ground the plaintiff's case was inadmissible.

8. However, the writ makes it sufficiently clear that the Kingdom of Belgium is the defendant (respondent). It was against the Kingdom, as employer, that the claim for continued payment of salary was made.

9. Contrary to a further contention of the defendant, it was possible for the Kingdom of Belgium to be summonsed at its Consulate-General in Rotterdamin this case.

10. The Kingdom of Belgium does have its seat in Brussels; however, under Article 14(1) of the...

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