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

Information on the contribution

Member State
Type of document
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Database of the CAHDI "The immunities of States and international organisations" - contribution of Austria - Jurisprudence of 11/06/2001

R. W. (individual) v. US (State)


Supreme Court (Oberster Gerichtshof)

Date of the decision, of the judgment


Points of law

The denial of a State to comply with a request of service of a legal documents is an act of ius imperii character.

Summary of the case

The plaintiff filed a suit against the US (her employer) for compensation for damages arising from her employment contract. The Court requested the Federal Ministry of Justice to forward the respective legal documents through diplomatic channels to the defendant (US Department of Justice).
The documents were left with the Department of State by the driver of the Austrian Embassy in Washington, the signature on the acknowledgement of receipt was not readable. The defendant claimed immunity referring to a note verbale of its embassy and failed to appear before the Court. The plaintiff requested a default judgment.

The Court did not comply with this request, arguing that there was no sufficient proof that the action and the summon had been served on the defendant correctly.

The Appellate and the Supreme Court stated that according to international law the implementation of letters rogatory or their denial was an act of ius imperii character and the case therefore not subject to Austrian jurisdiction. In determining whether an act was iure imperii or iure gestionis the Court repeated its view previously expressed (see judgment of the Supreme Court "X. Y. (individual) v. Embassy of X (State)" of 10 February 1961) that the act itself and not the purpose for which it was performed had to be considered.


No. 8ObA201/00t, Austrian legal information system (see: -„Judikatur Justiz, OGH”).

Additional information (explanations, notes, etc.)

See judgment of the Supreme Court "X. Y. (individual) v. Embassy of X (State)" of 10 February 1961.