The immunities of States and international organisations

This database contains the original national contributions bringing together information on The immunities of States and international organisations

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Member State
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Permanent link to the contribution
Database of the CAHDI "The immunities of States and international organisations" - contribution of Netherlands - Jurisprudence of 22/12/1989

M.K.B. van der Hulst v. United States of America


Supreme Court

Date of the decision, of the judgment


Points of law

1) A foreign State can only claim immunity if its act clearly has the character of a governmental act according to the views of the forum State. No immunity is in principle accepted for relations of an employment law nature entered into by a foreign State in the receiving State, although the defence of immunity may not be excluded in all cases.

2) If the applicant can rely on a contract of employment already in existence under private law, in carrying on its diplomatic mission and providing consular services in the receiving State, a foreign State should, for reasons of State security, be given the opportunity to allow the conclusion or continued existence of such a contract to depend on the result (which is not subject to the assessment of the other party or the courts of the receiving State) of a security check.

Summary of the case

The case concerns immunity in respect of an employment dispute between the United States of America and a Dutch woman, Mrs Van der Hulst, who had been employed as a secretary in the Foreign Commercial Service Department of the Unites States Embassy in The Hague since 1 July 1984. A final appointment was dependent on the results of a security check. On 29 August 1984 she was dismissed 'for security reasons'.


RvdW (1990) No. 15.

English summary: NYIL 1991, p. 379-387.

Additional information (explanations, notes, etc.)