Premier Steamship Corporation v Embassy of Algeria

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
Date20 October 1971
United States, District Court, Southern District, New York

(Palmieri, District Judge)

Premier Steamship Corp.
Embassy of Algeria

Diplomatic and consular intercourse and privileges Permanent diplomatic envoys Privileges and immunities of diplomatic envoys and their staff Sovereign immunity Agent of Algerian Government concluding charterparty agreement Arbitration clause Whether Court having jurisdiction to compel arbitration Identity of respondent given as Embassy of Algeria Effect of Department of State letter Effect of absence of diplomatic relations between United States and Algeria The law of the United States

States as international persons In general Sovereignty and independence Conduct of foreign relations Conclusiveness of statements of the Executive Department of State letter Diplomatic and sovereign immunity The law of the United States

Jurisdiction In general Territorial Exemptions from and restrictions upon territorial jurisdiction Foreign States Arbitration clause in charterparty Diplomatic immunity Effect of Department of State letter The law of the United States

Summary: The facts:In 1366, the petitioner, a Liberian Corporation, concluded a charterparty agreement with the respondent, described by the petitioner as an agency of the Algerian Government, engaged in the transaction of commercial business therefor, with an office in Washington D.C. The agreement provided for arbitration in New York. The petitioner made several requests for arbitration of a dispute but received no reply and therefore petitioned the Court to appoint an arbitrator and direct that arbitration proceed forthwith. The petitioner received a letter from the Department of State, pointing out that Algeria had severed diplomatic relations with the United States and closed its Embassy in 1967 and adding that, since an Embassy and its diplomatic agents were entitled to immunity from jurisdiction, even if the Algerian Embassy were open an United States Court could not compel it to go to arbitration.

The petitioner served notice of the Court hearing upon the respondent by registered letter sent to the Embassy of the Republic of Guinea, Algerian Interests Section.

Held:The petitioner's request was granted. The letter from the Department of State was not a binding suggestion which precluded the granting of relief. Although an Embassy and its agents were immune from jurisdiction, the Government of Algeria was not immune in respect of commercial acts. It followed that if the respondent was, as the petitioner alleged, an agency of the Algerian Government engaged in commercial business, the Court could issue an order compelling arbitration.

The petitioner was given leave to amend the designation of the respondent to The Government of Algeria.

The following is the text of the judgment:

This is a petition pursuant to the United States Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 4 and 5,1 seeking a court order appointing an arbitrator and directing that arbitration proceed forthwith in the manner provided for In a contract of...

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