Centre for Industrial Development v Naidu

Date27 mai 1991
CourtCivil Tribunal (Belgium)
Belgium, Civil Court of Brussels (Jurisdiction for Attachments).

(Gruwez, President)

Centre for Industrial Development

International organizations Immunity Attachment and execution Arbitration Award in favour of former employee of international organization Enforceability of award Rejection by arbitral body of plea of jurisdictional immunity by international organization Whether automatically implying no immunity from execution of award Bank account of international organization Whether immune from execution Whether any presumption that funds in such an account are allocated for the mission of the organization Waiver of immunity Conditions Headquarters Agreement between Belgium and the Centre for Industrial Development, 1978, Articles 1, 3 and 5 Whether court order of exequatur for award necessarily excluding immunity from execution The law of Belgium

Summary: The facts:The Centre for Industrial Development (the Centre) was an international institution established by the Third Lom (ACPEC) Convention in 1986 to promote the creation of industrial undertakings in the ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) States. Mr Naidu was a former employee who invoked an arbitration procedure against the Centre following his dismissal. The Arbitral Tribunal considered and rejected a plea of jurisdictional immunity by the Centre, concluding that the contract of employment was governed by private law, that arbitration was incumbent upon the Centre and that it had in any case waived its immunity. The Tribunal made an award of compensation in favour of Mr Naidu and the Belgian courts subsequently granted an exequatur for the award and a conservatory attachment in execution of funds held in a Belgian bank account in the name of the Centre. The Centre appealed to the Belgian courts for the vacation of the attachment.

According to the Headquarters Agreement between Belgium and the Centre of 1978, the property of the Centre was immune from execution, except in the case of a specific waiver, and the Centre could designate those accounts and funds which were necessary for the performance of its operations (Articles 1, 3 and 5). Pursuant to Decision No 4/86 of the ACPEC Council of Ministers, establishing Staff Rules for the Centre, decisions taken by the arbitral body were binding for the parties and, so far as necessary, enforceable in relation to the competent authorities of the signatory States and the institutions provided for by the Convention.

Held:The attachment should be vacated.

(1) Immunity from jurisdiction was not synonymous with immunity from execution. The first was derived from the nature of the acts performed by the person in question whereas the second was derived from the nature of the assets at issue, having regard to their allocated purpose. So far as funds held in the name of an international organization were concerned, they were in principle specifically allocated for the objects for which the organization had been created, and consequently they were covered by immunity from execution. It was not necessary to demonstrate that the funds were allocated for the performance of the mission of the organization.

(2) An order of exequatur was merely a preliminary step prior to execution and immunity from execution could constitute a bar to its enforcement. Such an order could therefore be blocked by a grant of immunity from execution. Waiver of such immunity...

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