President of EAT gives judgment on the meaning of ‘personal injury’ under international law for the purposes of state immunity

12.07.11 | |

Mr Justice Underhill, president of the EAT, gave judgment today in an important decision on the definition of 'personal injury' under international law for the purposes of state immunity.

Ms Ogbonna, a former employee of the Nigerian embassy represented by Harry Lambert, claimed damages for psychiatric injury arising out of discrimination.

Nigeria asserted state immunity and argued that s.5 of the State Immunity Act 1978 should be read in line with the explanatory report to the European Convention on State Immunity 1972 which talks of purely 'physical' harm.

The court held, however, that the term and its French counterpart 'pr éjudice corporel' were wide enough to countenance psychiatric harm.

The case is likely to go to the Court of Appeal and promises to be the leading authority applicable to psychiatrically injured embassy employees.

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