Chinese embassy case dismissed by Wellington landlord

The Chinese Embassy left rubbish and bills for cleaning and new keys in a Wellington rental property, but the landlord cannot take action against a sovereign state.To get more chinese newspaper, you can visit shine news official website.

The applicant, Chandler Investments Ltd, filed a claim against the People's Republic of China Embassy in the Rent Tribunal in May over rubbish, keys and cleaning left behind by the tenant.

The Tribunal had to decide whether it had jurisdiction to consider the company's claim against a sovereign state.

The short answer, given in a recent decision by the tribunal's adjudicator, Rex Woodhouse, was no.

Woodhouse's decision found that the embassy had "sovereign immunity" because there was no evidence that the lease had been used for commercial profit.

"In the context of the present claim, if sovereign immunity applies, then the tribunal would not have jurisdiction to hear the claim and that would be the end of the matter," Woodhouse said.

"Sovereign immunity is not an absolute rule, and one of the relevant exceptions in this case is where the subject matter of the dispute is commercial in nature," he wrote.

"However, I am not persuaded that the letting of a residential property to an embassy is of a commercial nature within the meaning of the common law of diplomatic or sovereign immunity."

Woodhouse said Chandler Investments had provided "limited evidence" with its claim for the Thorndon townhouse.

The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Mfat) was granted a "right to appear" by the court "given the nature of the claim against the state".

Mfat said the embassy had sovereign immunity and the matter could not be heard in New Zealand courts without the exception.