Legal Line - Question of the Week - Neil B. Garfinkel
Question: I am a licensed real estate salesperson and I represent an owner who is considering leasing her condominium to a foreign government official who has diplomatic immunity. What is diplomatic immunity? May a foreign government official waive their diplomatic immunity so that the owner retains her ability to sue them in the United States? Answer: Diplomatic immunity is a status granted to certain foreign government officials that removes them from the jurisdiction of United States courts. Therefore, a foreign government official with the status of diplomatic immunity (a "Diplomat") cannot be sued in the United States. The status of diplomatic immunity belongs to the Diplomat’s country and not to the individual Diplomat. Accordingly, individual Diplomats cannot waive their diplomatic immunity. In many instances, the Diplomat’s country will not waive diplomatic immunity, making it practically impossible to successfully sue the Diplomat in a court in the United States.