Supreme Court, United States of America v P.V.N., Nr. S.15.0051.N/2, 4 March 2019
The Belgian Supreme Court examines a judgement of the Brussels Labour Court of Appeal. The case concerns a dispute involving an employment contract between the USA and a private person, P.V.N., who worked for the US embassy in Belgium and demanded compensation after being dismissed in 2010.
The Supreme Court holds that, according to international customary law and, as provided by Article 11(1) of the 2004 Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities of States and their Property, a foreign state can only invoke immunity from jurisdiction in the context of employment disputes when a number of criteria are met, including that a person must be appointed for the performance of certain acts performed in the exercise of public authority (‘acta jure imperii’).
The Brussels Court of Appeal previously established that, while the defendant performed certain preparatory acts with regard to acts involving the exercise of public authority, he did not have the authority to sign and bind the USA. Consequently, such acts could not of themselves be considered to entail the exercise of public authority for which immunity from jurisdiction can be invoked. The Supreme Court confirms that the judgement of the Court of Appeal was properly motivated.