Embassy Law Web Log   
Washington, DC, USA      

Absolute Immunity Dies in Supreme Court

Under the International Organizations Immunities Act of 1945, such organizations were believed, under 22 USC §288a(b), to enjoy absolute immunity from suit in United States courts. On February 27, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States declared the absolute standard outdated and modified by the subsequent enactment of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976. That act abolished absolute immunity and enacted a restrictive immunity standard in 28 USC §1602, and its original protections have been greatly weakened since its enactment.

The IOIA provides for the same immunity granted states, embassies and consulates. The issue before the Supreme Court was whether same means the equivalance existing when the IOIA was enacted, or the same as the standard for states, embassies and consulates as it evolved before and after the enactment of the FSIA. In Jam v. IFC, the court decided that it is the latter. Therefore, the absolute immunity standard does not apply, and the test for the immunity of international organizations in U.S. courts will be the same as the standard applied today under the FSIA. -- Clemens Kochinke, partner, Berliner Corcoran & Rowe LLP, Washington, DC.