1986

UK

Westminster City Council v Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran [1986] 3 All ER 284

In May 1980 the Iranian Embassy was gutted by fire and the building was left in dangerous state. The council, in accordance with its powers secured the structure incurring expenses which were statutorily payable by the owner. After unsuccessfully requesting payment from the Iranian government, the council registered the expenses as local land charges and then sought registration of the charges in the land registry. The Iranian government objected registration on the ground that the property formed part of the diplomatic mission and was subject to state immunity. The registrar refer to the court the question whether it could be register or not. Iran could not be notified via Foreign of Commonwealth office since there was no British Embassy in Iran.

The dispute could not proceed since Iranian government was never notified, and then had not be given the opportunity of appearing at the hearing before the registrar or the court. State immunity only applies to premises currently used for the purposes of a diplomatic mission and does not apply to premises which have ceased to be used for diplomatic purposes