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143- Jurisdictional Immunities of the State (Germany vs Italy)

On December 23rd, 2008, the Federal Republic of Germany filed an application instituting proceedings against the Republic of Italy before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for alleged violations of the principle of immunity from jurisdiction of a sovereign State before the civil courts of the forum state, enshrined in customary international law.

In the present case, Germany submits that the decision of the Italian Court of Cassation in the Ferrini case, awarding damages to Mr Ferrini, an Italian citizen, in compensation for the damage suffered as a result of violations of international law and human rights during the Second World War by the Third Reich is unlawful under international law. The Italian courts had based their decision on the theory of the unenforceability of sovereign immunity from jurisdiction in cases of serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law.

The Republic of Italy made a counterclaim. It claims that Germany has not fully complied with its obligation to provide reparation to the Italian civilian and military victims who were massacred during the German operations. Germany’s liability therefore remains engaged. In an order dated July 06th 2010, the ICJ rejected Italy’s counterclaim, considering that this request was not part of the ongoing proceedings.

Order of 06-07-2010.pdf

On January 13th, 2011, the Republic of Greece filed an application for intervention in the proceedings, acting on behalf of greek nationals seeking compensation for the actions perpetrated by the Third Reich. In its order of July 04th, 2011, the Court granted this request to intervene.

Order of 04-07-2011.pdf

The Court ruled on the merits of the case in its judgment of February 03rd, 2012 and concluded that by allowing personal actions to be brought against the Federal Republic of Germany before its civil courts, by taking enforcement measures on German property on Italian territory and by declaring enforceable on its territory Greek judicial decisions based on violations of international humanitarian law committed in Greece by the German Reich, Italy violated the principle of immunity from jurisdiction.

Judgment of 03-02-2012.pdf

This summary is provided for informational purposes only, does not involve the responsibility of Dome and should in no way be used as a substitute for a careful reading of the judgment and order of the case.