The Future of Former Head of State Immunity after Ex Parte Pinochet

Warbrick, Colin, Goldrick, Dominic and Barker, J Craig (1999) The Future of Former Head of State Immunity after Ex Parte Pinochet. International and Comparative Law Quarterly, 48. pp. 937-949. ISSN 0020-5893

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While lacking the raw excitement of the live 'penalty shoot-out' that was the announcement of the decision of the House of Lords in Reg. v. Bow Street Magistrate, ex parte Pinochet,1 the initial impression of the decision in Reg. v. Bow Street Magistrate, ex parte Pinochet (No. 3)2 was of a solid majority support for the position that Pinochet was not entitled to immunity in the United Kingdom in respect of the criminal acts he is alleged to have committed. Even as Lord Browne-Wilkinson attempted to explain the intricacies of the decision, the matter of immunity appeared settled and of secondary consideration to the 'new' requirement of double criminality which alone, it seemed, had resulted in the considerable reduction in the list of crimes for which Pinochet could be extradited to Spain. Closer examination of the reasoning of their Lordships, however, quickly dispels that impression and reveals a range of opinions across a wide spectrum. What agreement there was between their Lordships on the matter of Pinochet's immunity from jurisdiction is diverse and often contradictory. In particular, the Lordships who formed the majority were equally divided on the question as to whether Pinochet was acting within his official capacity when carrying out the acts of which he is accused. Given that immunity rationae materiae appears to be available only in respect of official acts, it is difficult to see how the six could have agreed on the fact that Pinochet was not entitled to such immunity. Indeed, given the fact that Lord Goff (dissenting) was of the opinion that the alleged acts were performed in the course of Pinochet's functions as head of state, there was in fact a majority in favour of the prima facie existence of immunity rationae materiae.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Law
Depositing User: Craig Barker
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 19:30
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2012 10:09
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