Zucca v Fondazione Internazionale Premio Balzan

CourtCourt of Appeal of Milan (Italy)
Date10 Gennaio 1969
Italy, Court of Appeal of Milan.
Zucca and Others
Fondazione Internazionale Premio Balzan and Swiss Confederation

Sovereign immunity Foreign States and their departments Swiss Federal Department of Interior Measures taken against private Swiss Foundation under supervisory powers Whether Swiss State entitled to jurisdictional immunity in respect of such measures Requirement of equality of treatment with municipal authorities Principle of good faith The law of Italy

Summary: The facts:The Fondazione Premio Balzan was established on 28 February 1957 in Lugano (Switzerland) to encourage initiatives for peace and goodwill among nations and to promote cultural activities. On 1 March 1957 Mrs Angela Lina Balzan died in Milan, leaving the Foundation a considerable bequest in Swiss francs. On the advice of the Swiss authorities, on 17 July 1961 the trustees and executor of the Balzan Foundation reconstituted it under a new title, the Fondazione Internazionale Prix E Balzan-Fonds, as an administrative body whose purpose was to place sums of money alloted as prizes at the disposal of another organization. This second organization was established in Rome on 2 November 1961 and called the Fondazione Internazionale E Balzan-Premio. Its purpose was to organize the prize-giving and distribute the prizes. On 25 February 1964 the Swiss Federal Department blocked the funds of the Fondazione Prix E Balzan-Fonds because the Italian Foundation had refused to suspend the distribution of prizes. In the following October the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs dissolved the board of directors of the Fondazione Premio because the terms of its charter had not been respected. The plaintiffs, trustees and executors of Mrs Angela Lina Balzan claimed that the Swiss Foundation (Balzan-Fonds) was obliged to place the necessary sums of money for the prizes awarded in 1963 at the disposal of the Italian Foundation (Balzan-Premi); that the Italian Foundation was obliged to distribute the prizes to the winners; and that the Swiss Confederation was responsible because in exercising its control over the Fondazione-Fonds it had prevented the Foundation from distributing the funds. The Swiss Federation objected that in taking the measures on 25 February 1964 it had been acting in the exercise of its sovereign powers so that the Italian judge had no jurisdiction over the case. The Tribunal of Milan held that the Swiss Federal Department of the Interior, in taking the measures of 25...

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