Washington Law Review




Plaintiff steamship line, a Greek corporation, filed a libel in personam in Federal District Court for the District of Columbia against the Republic of Tunisia for unpaid demurrage allegedly accrued on plaintiff's ship while it was in Tunisian waters. Summons was issued to the Tunisian government, to be served upon its agent, the Tunisian Ambassador to the United States. Although no evidence established that the Ambassador had personally declined service, defendant United States Marshal returned the summons unexecuted, with the explanation that "the within named principal agent, having Diplomatic Immunity, and being listed on the Diplomatic List of the State Department, cannot be served at Washington, D.C." Plaintiff then sought a writ of mandamus to compel service. The trial court granted defendant's motion to dismiss. On appeal, the Circuit Court for the District of Columbia affirmed. Held: Mandamus does not lie to compel a United States Marshal to serve summons upon an agent of a foreign government who is eligible for diplomatic immunity, even though the summons would include the diplomat only in his capacity as agent of his sending state, and not as a party defendant. Hellenic Lines, Ltd. v. Moore, 345 F.2d 978 (D.C. Cir. 1965).

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