The immunities of States and international organisations

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Database of the CAHDI "The immunities of States and international organisations" - contribution of Finland - Jurisprudence of 01/11/2005



Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Date of the decision, of the judgment


Points of law

Summary of the case

The data on State practice regarding State immunities compiled by the Ministry for
Foreign Affairs of Finland mainly consists of judicial decisions. These judicial decisions
include cases in which a foreign State has been sued before a Finnish court as well as
cases where the State of Finland has been summoned by an individual or by a company
to a foreign court. The data also contains cases where Finland has been summoned to a
court of a State not member of the Council of Europe. In addition, there are some replies
of the Minister for Foreign Affairs to written questions put forward by members of
Parliament and a statement of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs regarding immunity from
the execution of a judgment. The cases mainly deal with jurisdictional immunity.
Immunity from the execution of a judgment has been less often under consideration. A
more detailed description of the cases is included in the sixteen enclosed standard
forms, or in the short summaries or other materials attached thereto.

Finland is not a State party to the European Convention on State Immunity (ETS No
074) nor to any other relevant convention. Finland, however, has actively contributed to
the work of the ad hoc Committee of the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly
on the Jurisdictional Immunities of States and Their Property (see also Finland/10).

As regards the table of description in the CAHDI circular 241001, particularly the section
on "state immunity" with its distinction between absolute jurisdictional immunity (1.a) and
limited jurisdictional immunity (1.b), it is understood that a conclusion as to whether the
act in question falls under 1.a or 1.b is meant to be made by the competent authority -
for example, a court or the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Thus, the distinction has been
made on the basis of a decision of the authority in question. However, the data also
includes some cases that are still pending before a court. In respect of those cases the
distinction could not have been made.

Most of the cases concern labour disputes between a foreign mission and a locally
recruited employee. It is noted that the legal practice regarding these cases has not
been entirely consistent. With the exception of one judgment rendered by a district court,
the Finnish courts have, however, found that, due to the immunity, they cannot exercise
jurisdiction over labour disputes involving foreign missions. This interpretation has also
been confirmed by the Supreme Court of Finland in its decision No. KKO:1993:120 (see
also Finland/2). Those cases concerning labour disputes where a court has concluded
that it does not have jurisdiction over the case due to immunity, have been classified
under 1.a (absolute immunity). In cases where the court has found that it has jurisdiction,
the case has been classified under 1.c (jurisdictional immunity not applicable).

The distinction between acts of government (jus imperii) and acts of a commercial nature
(jus gestionis) has been emphasized both in the judicial decisions and in the statements
by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. With the exception of one judgment entered by a
district court, the Finnish authorities have concluded that foreign states do not enjoy
immunity in relation to their commercial transactions with a natural or juridical person
(jus gestionis).


Additional information (explanations, notes, etc.)