State Immunity

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Al-Masarir v Saudi Arabia: A route to state accountability for spyware

Background On 19 August 2022, Knowles J denied Saudi Arabia’s claim to immunity in the case of Al Masarir v Kingdom of Saudi Arabia [2022] EWHC 2199. The claimant was a human rights activist and critic of the Saudi Arabian government who had been residing in the UK. The factual background to his claim was as follows: Mr Masarir claimed that malicious text messages had been sent to two of his iPhones, and spyware known as ‘Pegasus’ had infected his devices after Mr Masarir had clicked the link in those messages (Al Masarir, [14]). Mr Masarir alleged that Saudi Arabia was responsible for hacking his devices and operating the spyware, which had allowed it to, inter alia, spy on texts and calls and track the location of the phone. Mr Masarir also alleged that he had been assaulted in Knightsbridge, London; an act which he claimed had been directed or authorised by the Defendant or its officials  (Al Masarir, [16]).

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Is the Dispute between Germany and Italy over State Immunities Coming to an End (Despite Being Back at the ICJ)?

For nearly two decades Germany and Italy have been embroiled in a dispute over the scope of State immunities under international law. The dispute which relates to the question of compensation for victims of crimes committed by Nazi forces in Italy or against Italian citizens, has recently been resubmitted by Germany to the International Court of Justice…

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Shunning Conventional Wisdom – Italian Courts and State Immunity in Employment Disputes

Introduction  On State immunity in civil proceedings, Italian courts have been pathbreakers, for better or worse. The Italian Supreme Court, in the 50s, developed the restrictive theory of State immunity, now accepted as custom (Ronzitti, Venturini). More recently, Italian courts have poked holes in immunity for international crimes in civil proceedings (Ferrini v Germany,…

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Unilateral Economic Sanctions to Deter and Punish Cyber-Attacks: Are They Here to Stay?

In June 2021 during the Biden-Putin summit, President Biden stated that critical infrastructure should be “off-limits” to cyber-attacks and handed over a list of 16 areas of critical infrastructure that under no circumstance should be targeted by cyber-attacks. This took place after the SolarWinds cyber-attack that was described by SolarWinds Vice-President as “your worst nightmare”.

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The Immunity Saga Reaches Latin America. The Changri-la Case

In September 2021, a new episode in the saga of jurisdictional immunities of States unfolded. The Brazilian Supreme Court (Supremo Tribunal Federal, STF) ruled that immunity from jurisdiction ceases when faced with unlawful acts connected to human rights violations (decision in Brazilian Portuguese here). The case concerns the Changri-La fishing boat, sunk in 1943 by a…

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