One Immunity Has Gone . . . Another . . .: Holland v. Lampen‐Wolfe

AuthorMizushima Tomonori
Date01 May 2001
Published date01 May 2001
guarantee that a sale will be achieved. Thus, a seller who decides to sell without
reserve does so to guarantee that a sale will be achieved at a particular time and
place, provided that there is one person ready to bid for the property. The downside
is that he risks selling at a ‘knock-down’ price.
Advertising lots as being sold without reserve encourages bidders since they
know that provided they beat the competition they will secure the lot; they are not
exposed to the possibility that they will successfully outbid everyone else but fail
to secure the lot because there is a reserve placed upon it. Provided that the seller is
properly advised, he should be able to make a sensible commercial decision
whether or no to place a reserve on his auctioned property. But there can be no
doubt now in the minds of sellers or auctioneers that if the lot is sold without
reserve, they must let the lot go at any price.
One Immunity Has Gone . .. Another ... :
Holland vLampen-Wolfe
Mizushima Tomonori*
‘Any immunity from suit is a derogation from a person’s fundamental right of
access to the court which has to be justified.’
What was once justified can be held
unjustified. In Arthur J S Hall & Co vSimons, the House of Lords declared that the
advocate was no longer immune from suit.
On the same day, however, another
equally long-established immunity from suit was confirmed by the House of Lords
in Holland vLampen-Wolfe.
The immunity at issue was that enjoyed by foreign
states. The purpose of this note is to examine a number of issues raised by the
House of Lords’ decision in Holland vLampen-Wolfe.
The facts of this case are not complex. In arranging general education for those
permitted on a US military base in the UK, the US entered into a contract with a
US university. Under the contract, the university supplies the personnel for the
provision of education. The plaintiff, as part of her employment with the
university, gave courses to US military personnel and their families at the military
base. Receiving complaints from her students about her conduct, an employee of
the US Department of Defense, in his capacity as educational services officer at the
base, wrote and faxed a memorandum to the university’s office in Germany. He
questioned the professional competence of the plaintiff and requested the
assignment of another instructor in her place. The plaintiff then brought
proceedings for defamation against this officer.
Both the plaintiff and the
defendant are US citizens.
* MPhil/PhD candidate, London School of Economics and Political Science. The writer wishes to thank
the anonymous referee for helpful comments. The usual disclaimers apply.
1 n 2 below, 581 per Lord Hope.
4 In this case, the named defendant was not a foreign state but an individual official. For an analysis of
the individual’s entitlement to state immunity, see Mizushima Tomonori, ‘The Individual as
Beneficiary of State Immunity: Problems of the Attribution of Ultra Vires Conduct’ (2001) 29 Denver
Journal of International Law and Policy (forthcoming).
The Modern Law Review [Vol. 64
472 ßThe Modern Law Review Limited 2001

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