NK v Austria

Date26 Febrero 1979
CourtCourt of Appeal of Vienna (Austria)
Austria, Superior Provincial Court (Oberlandesgericht) of Vienna

State responsibility Acts and omissions of State organs Members of the armed forces Members of national armed forces serving with United Nations force Negligent act of member of Austrian contingent causing loss to another member of Austrian contingent Whether the responsibility of Austria Whether negligent serviceman acting as an organ of Austria or of the United Nations

International organizations United Nations United Nations forces Status of national contingents Whether members of national contingents act as organs of the sending State or of the United Nations United Nations Force in the Golan Heights Agreement between the United Nations and the Republic of Austria concerning Service with the United Nations Forces in Cyprus, 1966 Regulations issued by Secretary-General of the United Nations for the United Nations Forces in Cyprus, 1964 The law of Austria

Summary: The facts:The plaintiff had served in the Austrian contingent of the United Nations peace-keeping force in the Golan Heights in 197576. His property had been damaged due to the negligence of another Austrian soldier in the same contingent. The plaintiff sought compensation from Austria, alleging that the State of Austria was liable for the negligent act of the soldier. The court of first instance dismissed the action on the ground that, at the time in question, the negligent soldier had been acting as an organ of the United Nations and not of Austria. The plaintiff appealed.

Held:The appeal was dismissed.

It was clear from the relevant agreement between Austria and the United Nations under which Austrian troops had been contributed to the Golan Heights United Nations Force and the regulations issued by the Secretary-General of the United Nations which applied to the Force that members of the national contingents in the Force, while remaining in the service of their State, became, for the period of their assignment to the Force, international personnel under the authority of the United Nations. The commanding officer of the national contingent derived his authority from the commander of the Force. It followed that, at the relevant time, the negligent soldier had been an organ of the United Nations, rather than the State of Austria.

The following is a summary of the formal opening paragraph of the judgment:

The plaintiff, N.K., a platoon commander who brought an action against the defendant, the Republic of Austria, for payment of 15,000 schillings, has appealed against the judgment of the Provincial Court (Landesgericht) for Civil Matters of Vienna of 20 December 1978 (GZ 40c Cg. 515/785)...

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