Irish Labour Court finds embassies cannot claim diplomatic immunity from Irish employment legislation for non-diplomatic staff

The Irish Labour Court has found that foreign Embassies in the State can no longer claim diplomatic immunity from Irish employment legislation laws as it applies to their non-diplomatic staff.

The appellant, Nada Kanj, a dual Lebanese and Irish citizen, brought an unfair dismissals claim in which the Workplace Relations Commission held that it did not have jurisdiction due to diplomatic immunity. Ms Kanj was employed by the Kuwaiti Cultural Office in Ireland as an Academic Advisor where she assisted Kuwati students with immigration approvals, opening bank accounts, administering allowances and other payments. Ms Kanj argued that her role was an administrative one, involving the performance of technical and secretarial functions and did not include the exercise of any public powers or governmental authority.

The State of Kuwait argued that the role went beyond routine performance of administrative tasks and that such senior positions played a key role in the implementation of government policy. As such, the State of Kuwait claimed that the diplomatic mission was entitled to invoke the doctrine of sovereign immunity.

Having heard witness evidence and reviewing national and international precedent, the Labour Court found Ms Kanj’s role “did not involve the exercise of any public powers or governmental authority and did not touch on the business of the State of Kuwait such as to entitle it to rely on the doctrine of sovereign immunity”.

The State of Kuwait has six weeks in which to appeal the Labour Court determination to the High Court.

Click here for the decision in The State of Kuwait v Dana Kanj.



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