Ramos v United States of America

JurisdictionPortugal
CourtHigh Court of Lisbon (Portugal)
Date04 Maio 1994
Portugal, High Court of Lisbon.
Ramos and Others
and
United States of America

State immunity Jurisdictional immunity Employment disputes Locally recruited employees of mission of foreign State Employees having nationality of receiving State or third States Claim for salary increases Whether foreign State entitled to jurisdictional immunity Whether any distinction between acts performed jure imperii or jure gestionis The law of Portugal

Summary: The facts:116 locally recruited employees of the United States Embassy in Lisbon, who had been hired as foreign service nationals, brought a class action against the United States in which they sought a declaration from the Portuguese courts that their employment contracts were governed by Portuguese employment law so that they were entitled to the appropriate wage increases for 1991.

Held:The United States was entitled to jurisdictional immunity.

Portuguese jurisprudence was uniform in upholding the immunity of foreign States in proceedings arising from employment contracts with locally recruited employees of their diplomatic missions, in the absence of a clear waiver of immunity. Immunity applied irrespective of whether the acts at issue had been performed by the foreign State jure imperii or jure gestionis.

The text of the relevant part of the judgment of the Court commences on the opposite page.

Anabela Catarina Ramos and [a number of other plaintiffs] have brought proceedings based on their individual employment contracts, against the Government of the United States of America, in which they request a declaration that the law applicable to the employment relations between the parties is Portuguese law and that they therefore have the right to wage increases of 15.44 per cent for 1991.

[The Court summarized the course of the proceedings and the arguments of the parties and continued:]

It appears from the documents in the case that the plaintiffs work under the authority, direction and supervision of the United States Diplomatic Mission in Portugal, receiving wages, and that the defendant State does not recognize the applicability of Portuguese employment law to the relations existing between them.

The only question to be decided in this appeal is whether the...

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