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Foreign state immunity

Foreign states are generally entitled to be granted immunity from the jurisdiction of another state. This is known as foreign state immunity.

Foreign states are granted immunity from jurisdiction in Australian courts under the Foreign States Immunities Act 1985.

Any service of initiating process against a foreign state in Australia must be made in accordance with the provisions of that Act. Such a request for service should be made on the relevant form, which can be found in the Schedules to the Act. This department is responsible for transmitting the request for service, under the Act, to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in order for service to be effected by the diplomatic channel.

In accordance with the Act, foreign states will not be granted immunity in certain cases. These include cases involving:

  • commercial transactions
  • contracts of employment
  • personal injury and possession
  • use of property.

A short information paper on the operation of the Foreign States Immunities Act and the procedures for service of initiating process under the Act, including contact details, is below: