Buttet v UK: ECtHR gives disappointing judgment on the UK’s State Immunity Act 1978 and employment exemptions


Schona Jolly QC and Ruaraidh Fitzpatrick of Cloisters represented the Applicant, M.Buttet, in his proceedings before the ECtHR, instructed by John Halford and Shirin Marker at Bindmans LLP. The application, at the intersection of public international law, employment law, and human rights, challenged the discriminatory impact of the State Immunity Act 1978 which preclude a foreign national employed by a sovereign state from bringing an application against their employer before the courts and tribunals of the United Kingdom.

Schona Jolly QC, reflects on the decision:

“It is disappointing that important questions on access to justice for foreign workers employed in the UK, including our client, have not been resolved. Although the court recognised that there was a question over the interpretation of customary international law and rights of access to justice under Articles 6 and 14, including over the extent of any nationality discrimination permitted by states against their own nationals, the court has effectively failed to deal with this substantive question. We now hope that the United Kingdom government will take swift steps to remedy the gaps highlighted by the Supreme Court’s declaration of incompatibility made under the Human Rights Act in Benkharbouche v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in 2017.”

Read the details of the case and the legal team reaction from Bindmans LLP.